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Internal Audit has Plenty of Potential as the Profession of the Future

"Internal Audit has plenty of potential as the profession of the future," says Dr. Rainer Lenz.


The Institute of Internal Auditors Qatar conducted a webinar last week with Dr. Rainer Lenz (CIA, QIAL, CIIA, CEFA), Chief Audit Executive at SAF-HOLLAND Group, on the topic 'The future of Internal Auditing: Gardner of Governance. Dr. Rainer is a seasoned finance and audit professional with 30+ years of international experience as Regional CFO and Chief Audit Executive in global organizations. He teaches Governance and Internal Auditing at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (Germany). His 2013 Ph.D. is about the effectiveness of Internal Auditing. Richard Chambers, the former CEO of the IIA, nominated Dr. Rainer four times in a row as one of the world's top internal audit thought leaders, most recently in December 2022.

In the webinar, Dr. Rainer presented his unique concept, aspiring to strengthen the legitimacy and relevance of internal auditing as a profession, discussing five concrete paths to improve the world of Internal Auditing. The presentation portrayed his firm conviction that Internal Audit has plenty of potential as the profession of the future.

The five directions that deserve development are the Planet, Public, Profession, Prosperity, and People:

PLANET refers to Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG). There is no Planet B. IA must have a bigger stake in the debate.

PUBLIC denotes third-party appreciation by more successfully influencing public opinion to see and understand the value of internal audits. Self Assessments of internal auditors are biased and are of little value. "To gain acceptance, relevance, and heighten the impact, the stakeholders of internal auditors must see and appreciate the service rendered," Dr. Rainer said.

The PROFESSION of IA would benefit from a clear/er Unique Selling Proposition (USP): no "heartland," no internal audit. Internal Audit still lacks its commonly shared core. "With that hazy value proposition, the internal audit profession is constantly at the risk of overpromising and underdelivering, being viewed as a jack of all trades and master of none," Rainer mentioned.

PROSPERITY has to do with public and private (shareholder) welfare. Shareholder welfare includes the externalities of ESG. No business, no Internal Audit. There is nothing wrong when Internal Audit's findings and suggestions render tangible value, for example, contributions to the bottom line. Dr. Rainer said, "Internal auditing and controls are a means to an end, and the end is to improve an organization's governance. If everything is under control, you are just not going fast enough. If an organization fails because it is not profitable, the internal Audit Function fails too."

PEOPLE make all the difference. Business is about people successfully working together. People are where change starts. Internal auditors must remain flexible and tech-savvy, adapt to the unknown future, and keep learning.

"Did our profession move enough to become the Gardner of governance? More and better is needed," Dr. Rainer stated.

"The Future of Internal Auditing: Gardener of Governance" is available at

His new 2023 article, "The Future Role of the Internal Audit Function: Assure. Build. Consult.", is forthcoming in January

"We thank Dr. Rainer for an excellent presentation, for sharing experiential learning, and for the deliberations in the Q&A session, which were extraordinary. It was a very captivating session encapsulating high content to which the audience could relate. Viewing internal auditors as gardeners of governance is a promising metaphor to strengthen its value proposition both on a micro and a macro level. Governance has been central to what internal auditing has been aspiring to do for a long time," Sundaresan Rajeswar, Qatar Chapter Board member who organized the event, mentioned.

Girish Jain, the Seminar chair, welcomed the gathering, Rajeswar handled the Q&A session, and Aisha Rafique was the liaison with the speaker. The event had 100+ members in attendance.