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An Interview with Martin O'Malley - Leading Audit #auditiscool

22/01/2018 by Andy Winterburgh

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On the back of our interview last week with Sally Clark, we were absolutely delighted to be interviewing another leading FTSE100 Chief Audit Executive.

Martin O'Malley is the Group Internal Audit Director at Old Mutual Group, the FTSE100 Global Financial Services Group.  Over the past three years Martin has led the global Internal Audit (IA) function of over 300 people through a significant period of transformation and change.

We asked him why he thinks audit is cool and how he sees the profession developing.

Martin, welcome to the Leading Audit Interview Series,

Q: WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB AND WHAT IS THE WORST JOB YOU’VE EVER DONE?

Working as a labourer during the summer vacation whilst at university – this was also my worst, it was back breaking.

Q: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE A CAREER IN IA AND WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE? 

I was an external auditor for eight years before moving into internal audit. However, internal audit is more fulfilling for me because it is a difficult job and because I know I can add a tremendous amount of value irrespective of whether it is always recognised or I am thanked.  As an internal auditor I could invest the time to understand the problems facing an organisation and help to co-create sustainable solutions.  As an external auditor I had less quality time to do that.

Q: WHAT'S A TYPICAL DAY LIKE?

No two days are the same and that is what keeps me interested.

Q: WHO OR WHAT HAS HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOUR CAREER?

Ironically it has been one or two “failures” that have had the biggest impact. Experiencing setbacks is actually healthy yet it is difficult to see that at the time.  However, those experiences have helped me enormously when dealing with subsequent difficult situations.

Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO INTERNAL AUDITORS ON DEVELOPING THEIR CAREERS?

The best advice I can offer any internal auditor on their careers is to focus on trying to do the right thing.  Resist the temptation to follow the path of least resistance and finding the excuses as to why it’s ok to do so.  The internal auditors that succeed are the ones who have courage and do not need hierarchy to operate as leaders.

Q: WHO INSPIRES YOU AND WHY?

My wife because she is incredibly supportive and puts up with my idiosyncrasies.

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?

I always try to say things as I see them without sensationalising or diluting the message and I see this as one of my key strengths.  My weakness is that I am very impatient.

Q: WHAT ARE THE COMMON QUALITIES THAT THE BEST INTERNAL AUDITORS SHARE?

They have a sense of purpose.  Internal audit is a calling and its doesn’t suit everyone.

Q: WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

Seeing colleagues that I have worked closely with becoming audit directors of large organisations.

Q: WHY DO YOU FEEL THAT CHAMPIONING INCLUSION WITHIN THE INTERNAL AUDITING PROFESSION IS SO IMPORTANT? 

The best teams that I have worked with are made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures and experiences and are gender balanced.  In my view these teams are better equipped to analyse, assess and evaluate problems and situations from multiple angles to find the best answers. 

Q: WHERE DO YOU SEE THE PROFESSION IN 10 YEARS TIME?

In 10 years’ time I would I would like to see the profession rivalling the accountancy institutions in terms of standing and gravitas.

Q: WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE KEY CHALLENGES FOR INTERNAL AUDITORS IN 2018?

Demonstrating their worth beyond the completion of the assurance plan.

Q: FINALLY, WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?

I go to Internal Audit summer camp…..no seriously, I love travelling.  I’ve been lucky enough to have visited over 40 countries and I still don’t feel that I have scratched the surface.

 

 

Hybridge is proud to support Sally Clark in her mission as Deputy President of the CIIA to spread the message that #auditiscool. 

If you’d like to talk to us about how Internal Audit functions are ensuring they hire and retain top talent, or if you’re an Internal Audit professional and you’d like to work with a recruiter who understands the market, is well connected and will take time to find the right opportunity for you, get in touch with Hybridge today. 

Follow us on LinkedIn for news of the next of our Leading Audit Interview Series and up to date insights on Financial Services Internal Audit recruitment.