Recapturing Alumni Talent

A chief audit executive considers bringing former audit all-stars back into her department.

Edited by Eelco van Wijk

Rhonda is the vice president of audit at Sheetmakers, an international manufacturer and distributor of paper products. Headquartered in the southeastern United States, Sheetmakers has tree farms and paper plants around the globe and an extensive wholesale distribution system covering all 50 u.s. states. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with annual revenues just over us $30 billion. Rhonda’s department consists of three directors and a staff of 90.

Rhonda has long believed that investments in continuing education and certification programs for audit staff pay for themselves. Aside from meeting IIA audit quality requirements, ongoing training ensures that the staff is up to speed on the latest developments and refreshed occasionally on some of the profession’s basic tenets.

When looking at the longer term benefit of these investments, however, Rhonda has observed that some of the most avid pursuers of high-quality — and often costly — certifications and educational opportunities seem to leave the department for jobs elsewhere in the company. Although some of them transfer to control- and compliance-related positions, most are lost to finance, operations, or information technology (IT) departments. Rhonda has also noticed that few department alumni find their way back to the audit department.

How does Rhonda balance the competing goals of promoting from within the department — and thus putting professionals with current audit knowledge and experience into leadership positions — and recapturing high-performing alumni, who have added breadth to their knowledge and skills yet most likely have diluted their audit skills significantly? Should the audit function encourage, or even sponsor, the maintenance of audit-related certifications for department alumni? Will hiring alumni back into audit leadership positions send the wrong message to those who stay?

 Post your own thoughts on this scenario, or see expert commentary in the full version of the article.

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