To be, or not to be…Personable

Over the past several weeks it’s become apparent that my desire to pursue a career in internal audit may be a little more of a difficult career path than initially anticipated.  The primary reason has to do with interpersonal relationships.  Specifically the relationship between the internal auditor and their organization compared to that of an external auditor and their client has inherent differences in expectations relating to personal relationships between fellow employees and contractors.  While both parties (internal auditors and external auditors) are independent per the requirements of the AICPA Professional Standards, there appears to be a natural desire as an internal auditor to preserve personal relationships established with the staff under review.  This is not a terrible desire by any means.  Maintaining a personal relationship with the people you would typically see each day in the office is an obvious goal to aim for.  It does not matter what your profession may be.  Simply put, it’s nice to be able to have an exchange with a colleague that goes deeper than “Hi, good morning.”  As an internal auditor you’ll find that it is difficult to maintain a personal relationship when you are responsible for, in effect, critiquing other employees ability to comply the regulations internal audit is responsible for reviewing.

This is particularly difficult for me because, for one thing I started my as an external auditor and consequently have been fine tuned to the idea that so long as the work product stands on its own merits and I conduct myself in a professional way than preserving personal relationship with the client is irrelevant.  Think about the last time your company has been audited.  Did your external auditors/consultants really care about anything unrelated to the job they were hired to completed.   This mentality has been reflected in my work over the summer because I’m quite conservative in my analysis thereby being more critical in my audit findings.  For example, earlier in the summer I came across series of circumstances which, having conservative judgment, I assessed as an Operational Control DeficiencyHowever, a different auditor presented with the same circumstances could view the issue as immaterial.  Truth be told, the latter approach was probably closer to reality.

During this internship perhaps my biggest takeaway will be if I do decide to go into internal audit as a long-term career move then I’ll have to find the middle ground between being professionally skeptical and being personable.