Myth busted – Auditors are not boring!
I thought I’d put it out there so that we can start this blog post on a positive note and dispel that stereotype once and for all.
This week I had an opportunity to present two sessions at SOPAC 2016. The first session was How to Build Your Professional Learning Network with Twitter and the second was How to Build Your Authority and Influence in Social Networks When You’re At The Start of Your Careers to the Young internal auditors cocktail reception.
I regularly welcome the opportunity to present to audiences outside my field. It is one of the best ways to build your network into diverse industries and a great way to learn about their field as well as meet influencers in the profession.
SOPAC stands for the South Pacific and Asia Conference and brings together auditors in these regions who are members of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). It was delightful not only to meet and greet international auditors from places such as Papua New Guinea, but to also speak to them about the opportunities and challenges they face in their professions.
In a way, auditors are stuck between a rock and a hard place to ensure compliance, governance and risk frameworks are in place to protect the organisations interests. As you can imagine, in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) workplace, many demands are placed on them from not only their audit executives and boards but their business clients. Also auditors have the other disadvantage of sometimes not being welcomed especially at perceived inconvenient times.
Of course, the article published by the Brisbane Times promoting the event only added to the unfortunate tainted image of auditors.
So it was with that negative perception that I attended SOPAC determined to play my part, no matter how small, to blast that stereotype – and I was going to use the power of Twitter.
My Goal for Sharing Learning at SOPAC
My key goal for the conference was to inspire auditors to tweet so that they could continue the connections and networks they made at the conference beyond the actual event.
Of course, it meant that I had to role model this by attending each session and sharing key learning points through various means such as links, updates, photos and video using the #SOPAC2016 hashtag.
I hoped that the frequency of tweets inspired (or possibly annoyed) the ‘lurkers’ into action (those who had Twitter accounts and never used them except for reading) to contribute their own perspective to the conversation.
After all, you couldn’t have someone outside the auditing profession be one of the few voices of SOPAC representing internal audit on Twitter…
An Outsider’s View of Auditors
Prior to the conference, I conducted some research into the auditing field. As well as speaking to both experienced and novice auditors, I also read the white papers and reports on the IIA website as well as the recent North American Report into the IIA Profession which gave me an appreciation of the challenges of the profession.
However, I also conducted online researches to find the key influencers in the online social networks and admittedly struggled to find individuals, and in Australia, using this tool to connect and network with each other. I incorporated my observations into my presentation of the perception I had of the field and surmised that apart from the large consulting firms such as Deloittes and Member associations, individual auditors were not using social media widely to connect and network to each other. The notable exceptions were the IIA President Richard Chambers whose Twitter profile I used as a demonstration.
Busting the Myth
Speaking to many auditors throughout the whole day revealed to me people who were working on audits across different departments. The more experienced auditors recounted experiences working on audits that required diplomacy, tact, negotiation and sensitivity.
Auditors (Like Learning & Development) Are Responsible for Changing their Mindset & Be Open to Change
One of the best presentations I heard was from the Global IIA Chair Lawrence J. Harrington who, in an emotive presentation urged the need for auditors to be continually learning and not rely on their organisations to provide formal education. He talked about the myriad of online tools, whitepapers, case studies and other references that were readily available online or through the IIA site. He queried that with over 3000 members across the world, there was no reason that the 600 or so auditors in the audience to not share what they were learning at the conference to each other and to start building networks and connections to each other.
As I sat in the audience listening to Lawrence, I was breathing a sigh of relief. In effect, much of what my presentation to the Young IIA Cocktail function was going to be the story of how I keep up with the constant change in my field and the similarities of the challenges that both auditors and learning and development people face against businesses who don’t see their value.
Speaking with the graduates at the end of a long day, I know I presented too fast as I was between them and their drinks and nibblies. Through my own story and with a presentation that was based on a Pecha Kulcha style of presenting (all photos rapidly changing), hopefully I maintained their interest. Certainly after the presentation I did stay to the end with a small group of enthusiastic and highly intelligent young auditors talking about social media, the challenges they have in their organisations working for managers who don’t understand it and being the young ones in their team being “given the social media audits”. These young graduates impressed me with their interests outside their own field with huge followings in their own social media accounts. We stood around sharing apps and showing each other augmented and virtual reality, talking about Periscope, Blab and at one stage reflectively considering whether all this technology was actually good or bad… but that could have been the few glasses of wine by that stage.
My Slideshare presentation to the auditors:
Collection of stories on the first day.