The path to seniority sees job opportunities become ever more exclusive and expectations over skill set higher. Head of Internal Audit jobs tend to arise as a result of retirement or employees moving into other areas of the business, so for those heads of audit looking to make a move or find a new opportunity, their sources are likely to come via search firms or their own personal network.
An overarching regulatory climate is certainly prompting financial services firms to be at the forefront of the hiring squad when it comes to locating internal auditors with the required seniority and expertise. There are some roles available within industry and commerce, and for those interested in relocating, the Middle East holds a great deal of potential as a number of privately owned companies are setting up their own Internal Audit functions and are thus looking to bring in heads of audit to run the departments.
Historically, companies have recruited for head of internal audit roles externally, though the trend that has now been emerging seems to indicate a greater appetite for internal hires, as companies are seeking heads of audit in possession of commercial experience gained from working within the business. This desire for commercial savvy is prevalent across the majority of sectors as firms acknowledge the importance of ensuring their managers are instilled with an all-round understanding of the business, including sales and operations as well as internal processes.
A technical grounding in audit certainly qualifies as essential criteria for head of internal audit positions; however that alone will not progress your career. Servicing the business side of the role as well as the personal, heads of audit must have an acute understanding of the impact of the audit function on the business itself and its users. Keeping informed of changes and updates in regulations is a certain prerequisite for any head of internal audit. As the key point of contact with regulating bodies those in senior audit roles are expected to be able to communicate clearly and effectively in order to relate the facets of audit processes and necessary recommendations in a way that those outside of the audit function can comprehend.
Communication is key as the head of internal audit is required to liaise with the most senior figures of their business, including both the audit committee and executive board, as well as being able to talk to key stakeholders in the company. This is a job that requires a certain level of gravitas in its influential position within a business and excellent presentation skills to match.
From communication to computing, the importance of technological expertise should not be discounted for those in a head of internal audit job. Cyber security and internal audit are more and more becoming close bedfellows as companies work to align the two in order to strengthen internal processes and their defence against information security breaches and attacks. Therefore, heads of internal audit need to have in their professional arsenal a strong understanding of technology, while not from an IT background, but the ability to decipher its impact both on audit and the business.