Jun 22nd 2010
A few weeks between me and the IIA International Conference
A few weeks later, I’m not sure it was worth the $2000+ I spent to attend.
Why did I go? To network and to learn.
On the networking end, I did show my face and visited with some of my old buddies in the government arena. But as I told one of them – who was the best presenter during the whole conference – I could have done that right here in Austin. When there are almost 3000 folks in attendance, it is difficult to track down new folks.
I met one gentleman who knows his stuff about risk, a few other people who are also in the CPE business, and learned how Jim Kaplan started AuditNet. Maybe something will come from those interactions.
I was hoping to convince the Public Sector committee that I was worthy of appointment – but I understand from a friend of mine who works for a Big 4 – the committees don’t like vendors.
On the learning end, I was disappointed. Maybe I just didn’t pick the right stuff for my breakout sessions.
Ken Moray – the City of Austin Auditor – who was the best of the conference – did a great job putting IT professionals in their place. And he provided some great tools for assessing IT.
Joel Kramer – of MIS – was entertaining and insightful as usual. He had a list of the 25 things that stupid internal auditors do – and that was fun to laugh along with. It was funny and instructional.
I saw a woman from Britain who argued that auditors should not make recommendations – she reasoned that we should be change agents not dictators. Cool concept. I listened to the Capability Maturity Model study – which was interesting. Using it, I can decide where my clients are along a scale of audit shop maturity.
For one session – I moved four times and still didn’t find anything I was interested in.
Two keynoters were notable. The CEO of Home Depot made me proud to be a woman. When asked how she handles her busy life without passing out from stress – she said she worked at being present in each moment – meaning she doesn’t let the past or the future encroach on what she is supposed to be paying attention to now. It reminded me of a Buddist teacher Tan Nicht Tran who wrote that when you are doing dishes – do dishes. Enjoy the dishes. He called It ‘mindfulness’. One sanctuary put bells at the top of each door so that the door would ring as you pass through it to snap your mind back to the current moment. Kinda’ cool to hear an executive talk about how minfulness helps her day-to-day.
Another keynoter was key in exposing the Bernie Madoff fraud. It was interesting to hear how Bernie Madoff used the worst of human nature to feed off of the unsuspecting. For instance, he formed a mafia-like network of advisors who were interested in lining their own pockets and remained loyal to him out of fear and self interest. He also told several stories of audit failure and how many years ago, Bernie thought he was done for when the auditor finally asked some decent questions. Only problem was, the auditor didn’t follow through and he went on to live his lie for another decade. A pretty good cautionary tale – but our profession is full of them.
Overall, I think I’ll wait another four years for the conference to cycle back around to the United States – by then maybe they’ll be talking about something other than ERM (Enterprise Risk Management).