Certification Corner - The Institute Of Internal Auditors  


3rd Quarter 2013
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Väino Sarnet, CIA, CGAP

Certification Spotlight: CIA Silver Award Recipient, Väino Sarnet

Väino Sarnet, CIA, CGAP
City of Tallinn, Estonia
2012 A.J. Hans Spoel Award – Silver Award recipient
(2nd Highest Scoring CIA Candidate)


 What prompted you to become a CIA?

I wanted to prove my capabilities and competence in internal auditing because my background is in science and management. For me, it is significant that my ability is supported with the relevant qualifications. As I understand it, the globally recognized CIA designation is the ultimate mark of a professional internal auditor. I also wanted to demonstrate my commitment to the profession and its work ethics and be viewed as credible when discussing internal auditing issues with my coworkers who have substantially more practical audit experience.

Did your organization fund your exam fees or preparation materials? If yes, was it the corporate culture or did you have to sell the value of certification?

No. Because of my age and the current austerity policy in the Estonian public sector, covering the costs of obtaining the CIA on my own was appropriate under the circumstances. As the certification becomes obligatory for internal audit managerial positions in government and local government organizations in Estonia, certification-related issues are one of the most popular topics among internal auditors in Estonia.

How many of your colleagues are certified?

At this moment, I am the only CIA or CGAP in my organization. Staff members are only required to have university qualifications; however, some of my colleagues are preparing to take the CGAP exams soon, because as of 2014, CGAP or CIA certification will be mandatory for management level internal auditors in the Estonian government and local government organizations.

How does having the CIA set you apart from your non-certified peers?

As the only CIA in my organization, I feel a responsibility to promote the CIA and CGAP designations, IIA standards, and professional ethics in my organization.

How did you prepare for the exam?

My starting point was the CIA Model Exam Questions that helped me to target my preparation for exams. I read and reread the International Professional Practices Framework and studied Gleim CIA Review books. I also compiled my own study materials for memorizing difficult concepts and answers. I used Mometrix Exam Secrets Study Guide for repeating and exam taking strategies.

How has being a CIA helped your career?

As I earned my CIA relatively recently, there is no tangible effect to my career so far, but it was important for my personal growth. As a result of earning my CIA designation, I feel more confident in my current position. Since earning my CIA designation, I have been invited to speak at seminars and workshops on how to efficiently prepare for exams.

What advice do you have for others who are seeking certification?

It may help if you imagine yourself as CIA to keep you motivated during your studies. Stay positive when studying. Find out your strong and weak areas. Focus on your weaker areas but be careful not to make careless mistakes in you areas of strength. Every point is valuable; do not lose points in "easy" areas. Try model questions periodically to find out where you are. Try to memorize standards and code of ethics concepts as well as you can. When preparing for and taking the exams, determine deadlines and avoid the temptation to defer the date of examination. 

Väino Sarnet, CIA, CGAP, has worked as a researcher in the field of plant biology, and after Estonia regained independence from the Soviet Union, as the Deputy Governor of West-Viru County and chief executive officer of the Estonian Privatization Agency. He also served as head of the Bureau of Public Administration at the State Chancellery, director of the Center for Public Procurement in the Ministry of Economy, and as CEO of Sillamäe Power Station, an independent power producer. Since 2008 he has worked as an expert for the office of the internal auditor of Tallinn City, Estonia. Sarnet has a degree in agronomy from the Estonian Academy of Agriculture as well as a degree in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Tartu, Estonia.