Internal Auditors Play Greater Role in Business

Internal audit leaders from some of the world's top organizations share how they have reshaped the internal audit function to meet new risk and compliance needs in the latest edition of Internal Auditing Around the World from Protiviti, a global consulting firm.

Volume eight of the series, How Internal Audit Functions Develop Great People explores the strategies that internal audit executives use to keep their people and departments ahead of the curve as internal audit evolves, expands, and becomes an even more integral part of daily business operations.

"Internal audit continues to earn its place as a genuine partner with other areas of the business and a training ground for future company leaders," said Brian Christensen, Protiviti's executive vice president of global internal audit. "Management and boards of directors rely on internal auditors more heavily than ever before to identify and assess business risks and oversee compliance efforts. The internal audit departments featured in our study have responded to these needs with successful, forward-thinking programs."
 
The new publication from Protiviti profiles eight international companies that have taken a fresh look at the broader role the internal audit function plays in their business. One prevalent theme runs through the profiles: Internal auditors are gaining valuable exposure to other areas of the business, expanding the reach of internal audit and building a stronger understanding of risk management and effective internal controls throughout the organization.
 
At one featured company, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Senior Vice President and Chief Audit Executive Sandra Cartie has transformed the internal audit department. Rebranded as Audit Services, the department provides a rare opportunity for an individual with two to five years of experience to join Bristol-Myers Squibb, learn about global markets and operations, and interact with the company's top executives. Audit Services provides a platform for both personal and professional growth, including the opportunity to build not only financial, strategic, operational, compliance, and IT skills, but also verbal and written communication skills. After three years in the department, the auditors' maturity and knowledge can set them apart from their peers. "This is a competitive advantage, and it positions our auditors to potentially move up faster and be recognized on the company's key talent list," Cartie said.
 
Another featured organization, GDF SUEZ, has seen success with its Internal Audit Academy, launched in 2011 following a merger that increased expectations for the internal audit department. The academy offers continuous professional education, with broader objectives to promote innovation, intellectual curiosity, and cultural diversity among internal audit staff. Its core focus in 2012 is to refine the team's interpersonal skills, according to Chief Audit Executive Xavier Bedoret. "Auditors love to produce thick audit reports - even though only a couple of pages are likely to retain top management's attention. So they need to learn how to distill information effectively for specific audiences," Bedoret said. "Through the Internal Audit Academy and other professional development activities, we are emphasizing that the company values these types of skills as much as technical expertise. We are saying that internal auditors need to be the whole package."
 
This eighth edition of Internal Auditing Around the World also profiles such companies as the Aditya Birla Group, Brookfield Brazil, Mediq, and TD Bank Group. To read this or past Internal Auditing Around the World publications, visit the Protiviti website
 
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Source: Protiviti Inc.
 

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