A grateful practitioner talks about how his decision to align with internal audit enriched his life.
#IAm Jude Viator
Blogs Jude Viator, CIA, CISA, CRISC Nov 24, 2021
Through a convergence of fate, opportunity, innate ability, and life-long training, I find myself nearly 15 years into a fascinating career as an internal auditor. Just a mere 17 years ago, I was a converted accounting student, having moved past my original plans to become a chemical engineer. As I re-planned my adult life, I was confident in my ability to work with math and numbers and also understood that accounting was a safe and secure educational tract. Shortly thereafter, I quickly acknowledged that I also had an interest in people, processes, and not doing accounting, so I welcomed the idea of an alternative path — audit.
To be honest, around that time, the truism "mother knows best" also played a part, as mine directly told me, "Jude, I am not totally sure what all an auditor does, but you are one." There may have been some other words shared, but that was the gist. I can remember bagging groceries the summer before that semester, when the corporate auditors arrived. Many were annoyed or concerned, but I recall a deep interest in their purpose and approach. As the summer ended, I was ready to fully invest in the idea of chasing the audit dream.
I mentioned fate played a role, and it was a BIG one — my girlfriend (now wife) had a roommate that I rarely saw. However, I just happened to be visiting when she was returning from an event hosted by the Louisiana State University (LSU) internal audit program. She was beaming about opportunities, while also bemoaning the challenging course. I left that evening interested and excited, knowing that I wasn't restricted to external audit. Fast forward two days, and my mom tells me that I have mail from LSU, inviting students to enroll in the internal audit program. Apparently, a similar promotional message had come before, and was part of the reason my mom had even suggested audit to me. I am not sure she even fully understands what that meant to me, to this day.
As you may expect, I joined that program, which helped me (forced me) into becoming a professional (Dr. Sumners had and still has high expectations). It also helped me land my first audit-related job, which is the job that I still have today, having been promoted a few times. Over those years, the LSU internal audit program and the decision to align with internal audit have enriched my life. Beyond providing me with a stable and rewarding job, the program introduced me to friends, colleagues, lessons, and experiences that have shaped my career. Internal audit has provided me with an unbelievable opportunity: I get paid to be skeptical and to get to know people, processes, and organizations — my favorite things. It has been fascinating to learn that audit is a mindset that is enhanced through experience and training, and those who naturally see the world through that lens are more prone to find not only career satisfaction, but daily enjoyment of the opportunities that it provides.
I think at our core, we all carry traits of quality auditors, even if we don't associate with the idea of being one. Understanding the profession as I do now, I can easily recognize that my dad has always exhibited many of those characteristics. His dream was working in law enforcement, and he lived that dream from the year I was born until the year my first child was born, almost 30 years. He was and is a rule follower, and my brothers and I heard many speeches about ethics, but he also told traffic-stop stories that emphasized empathy and compassion. Looking past that softer side, those stories communicated the importance of being observant, listening, understanding requirements, considering risks, and knowing when it was okay to hand out a warning instead of a citation. It is an age-old irritation for auditors to be perceived as cops, but in my life experience, that comparison isn't all bad.
After 'retiring,' my dad is now back with the state police, working as a compliance auditor for driving schools. I hear new stories (and I now yearn for the details) that carry much less physical risk, but the same characteristics. Even after all my training and work experience, I find myself continuing to learn and evolve through those conversations. While I never dreamed of law enforcement, like many, I also see my dad as a role model, and his example has encouraged me to strive to be a better human, better husband, better father, and better auditor.