As previously announced, Judith Charlton is taking on the Vice Presidency with Sue Ironside. Judith is General Manager, Internal Audit Latitude Financial Services. She has more than 25 years’ experience in Internal Audit across a range of sectors. She has been an IIA-Australia member since 2011. She is currently a Board Director, a member of the IIA-Australia Nominations Committee and previously served as a Councillor then Chair, IIA-Australia Victoria Chapter Council. She is the Board liaison for the Victoria Chapter Council.
What have been your major challenges of the past few years?
The main challenges centred around the lingering COVID hangover, particularly in Victoria. Individuals were all suffering from change fatigue and fatigue in general. Our business had a strong agenda to simplify, grow and modernise and as an audit team we also needed to move on this change agenda. Building momentum, energy and enthusiasm to embrace the change and deliver on our obligations was challenging.
How did this differ from previous years?
Pre-COVID, everything centred around being in an office environment, so initially when working from home in 2020 and 2021, we continued to use the same tools and practices as always, but adjusted for working from home.
But it wasn’t that simple. In previous years, when we received additional requests for assurance, like sponges, we tended to absorb these requests. But balancing these additional requests while delivering on our strategic plan and fulfilling our audit obligations was hard. We quickly reached or exceeded capacity and we knew something had to change.
By focusing on our mindset, adopting a champion/challenger approach to improve our practices and adapting our ways of working to focus on achievements and successes, helped us focus on what mattered. We changed how we viewed progress of our audit obligations and change agenda. As we removed or automated the non-value add activities, we were able to not only meet the additional requests but deliver on our change agenda. The resultant lift in energy and enthusiasm was noticeable and created a real momentum and understanding of the benefits to be realised.
What benefits do you derive from your IIA-Australia membership?
Connectivity, networking and shared learnings. Webinars, Chapter Chair meetings, conferences and relevant courses are important, but I also get a lot from the CAE 60 Second Survey Reports. This is by reading the results and answering the questions in the first place as they make me pause and reflect, ‘what am I doing and how am I learning?’ This helps ensure that the team and I remain relevant and up to date.
The membership also gives you common ground with the internal audit community. We all work in this field and we help each other by sharing information and ideas. Internal audit can be lonely, so knowing there are others facing same opportunities and challenges is reassuring. When faced with problems, I will often reach out to other members or IIA-Australia and ask for advice. Being part of IIA-Australia is a great way to maintain connection and best practice standards.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received in your career?
Find something that energises you and do it to your best ability. When I was growing up I knew I wanted to be an accountant and everyone was encouraging me to do the typical business and math related subjects. A chartered accountant said to me, ‘do the subjects you enjoy, not what the career advisor is telling you to do as you will perform better’. This is something that has stuck with me throughout my career.
What advice would like to give to others?
Find a role and organisation that connects to your values. If you are working somewhere that doesn’t align with your own values or energise you to be at your best, you will always be in your B game, not your A game. Never stop being curious, practice deep listening skills because you never know what you might learn. It’s never too late to learn and teach an old dog new tricks!