...Just to Have a Laugh or Sing a Song...

Yesterday I began what is turning out to be an incredibly self-indulgent discussion about my career in auditing – how you should never work at what you don’t love, how I wound up in auditing, and how come I enjoy it so. All of this because, at the end of the week, I will be retiring. I’ll get into that whole “retirement” thing later.   For now, let’s pick up the thread where we left off. How come, in spite of what some people think, auditing is the place to be.

What would make anyone stick with one job for 29 and one-half years? One of the things I recognize is the incredible luck I’ve had regarding the situations in which I got to work.
 
First there are the people. I have made a number of life-long friends while in this job – people who helped make me what I am, people who I’ve had the opportunity to develop, people I have worked for that used to work for me, and people who let me explore things most bosses would think of as folderol and codswallop. I have been through births and deaths and marriages and breakups and fights and reconciliations with these people. There have been public times and private times and crazy times and fun times and sad times and insane times and tragic times and lives lived together as fellow human beings. These people have been a second family.
 
I could spend hours talking about the great people I’ve worked with.  {At this point I started to list the names of all those people and realized that a seemingly unending list of names that was meaningless to you, the reader, was not worth the satisfaction of my getting to put those people’s names in print.} Let it suffice to say that Key Point Number One is people make the job.
 
Second is the opportunities I was given to stretch, to be creative, to try things that most bosses would have shot down with unceremonious cries of “That’s not what auditors do!” or “Not on my watch!” or “There’s no budget for that!” or “That isn’t professional” or “Get thee behind me Satan!” or any of the many other responses that represent the short-sightedness of far too many leaders. Because of the freedom I was given I was allowed to adapt concepts of process mapping to internal audit work, become a trainer with the IIA, lead brainstorming sessions across our decentralized audit department on how auditing can be like a trip to Disneyland, begin an audit of social media when no one else was even looking in that direction, write humor pieces for the IIA, do a complete audit program from start to finish as my second audit (ever), go to the Disney Institute for training, and do just about anything I could imagine when I could show it would add value to the department or the company. No third degree; no second guessing the decision. Instead, letting me take the lead and prove what might be accomplished.
 
(I’ve given a lot of presentations on leadership, and I’ve had a lot of people ask me what makes good leadership. You want the first one? There it is. Have enough faith in people to allow them to be as creative as they can be. Doesn’t mean it will always lead to something. But when it does….)
 
Key Point Number Two:  Work where you are allowed to be as crazy as you need to be.
 
Third, I have had the opportunity to live my personal life pretty much on my own terms. One of the greatest proofs of this is that, in spite of our home offices being located in Los Angeles, I was able to move from the position of lowly, entry-level auditor to the undeservedly respected position of Senior Audit Manager without ever having to move from Phoenix.
 
Yes, it included one year where I spent half my time in LA and half in Phoenix. That period was tough, and it is about the closest I came to seriously looking for employment with a different company. Being away from family isn’t easy. But some of those friends I mentioned above were there to support me. And, in short order, the travels to LA reduced, and I was lucky enough to come out ahead.
 
Mind you, had I been willing to move to LA there’s a good chance I could have become more than Senior Audit Manager. (It appears I will never disprove Mrs. Hayward’s contention that I was not living up to my potential.) But now we’re back to the point of yesterday’s post – don’t take a job you can’t love. Moving to LA was not in the cards for my loving a job.
 
Key Point Number Three:  Keep your own priorities straight
 
So, there you have them – what I consider to be three key aspects that will make a workplace someplace you want to stay for 30 years, or one from which you want to skedaddle. If you do not like the people, if you are not given the opportunity to be creative, or if you cannot live the personal life you desire, then find somewhere that will allow you to do so. 
 
And if you have all three, hang on for dear life.
 
So, we are now two days into this whole discussion and I still haven’t answered the question “Why internal audit?”
 
Tomorrow, we will talk about the profession…about the fact that I am hard pressed to believe there is anything more important, influential, and satisfying than being in the profession of internal auditing.
 
Anybody know the third line to the song?

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 by Mike Jacka

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