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An Interview with Alison McFadyen - Leading Audit #auditiscool

12/02/2018 by Andy Winterburgh

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Alison McFadyen is currently Group Head of Internal Audit at Standard Chartered Bank, where she has held several roles since joining in 1999, including CEO - Jersey in 2005. She is also an active member of the Standard Chartered LGBT network and passionate supporter of diversity and inclusion more broadly. We asked her about her career in Internal Audit and why she thinks #auditiscool

Alison, welcome to the Leading Audit Interview Series,

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

My first proper job was in a clearing bank printing cheque books manually. However, my worst job was being Head of Simplification in a large global bank. It was even worse than printing cheque books!

Q: WAS INTERNAL AUDIT YOUR FIRST CAREER CHOICE AND WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE? 

Absolutely not. I have only done audit in the last few years. I have done lots of other things – been a CEO of a small country within my current bank, Chief Operating Officer, Project Manager, Head of Operations and many more.

Q: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE A CAREER IN IA?

I didn’t really “choose it” – it sort of chose me. But I really like it, and if I’d known how interesting it was, I might have chosen it long before. 

Q: WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY LIKE? 

It starts around 6:30 or 7am in the office. I don’t really have a typical day though. In fact, every day seems to be unique. Speaking to people in Asia or dealing with emails is usually the first priority. Many of the Group level meetings which can be committees or ad hoc meetings happen from 8am to 11am as so many people from Asia need to dial in. Then more emails, prepping for meetings later for the next day, one to one meetings, reading papers, writing papers for Board Committees and dealing with anything that comes my way.

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

Difficult to pick one person, as there have been so many influential people along the way. Probably I would have to say my Dad. He was a stockbroker in the City, which gave me a taste for working in the City. He cared deeply about people, worked hard, and always felt privileged to have a good job. I feel the same. 

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

To Directors I would say focus on the big picture and what you might be missing. To VPs check that you are focusing on the messaging and persuasion as well as on the soft stuff – people and culture. Finally, to AVPs, ensure that you listen and learn - all the time. 

Q: WHO INSPIRES YOU AND WHY? 

George Frideric Handel because I love music. Handel’s music, particularly his operas, inspire me so much. Listening to Handel operas gives me an energy and a feeling of hope like nothing else can.  

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES? 

Wide ranging experiences and an ability to communicate are my key strengths. However, I can be utterly disorganised and prone to doing things at the last minute. 

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

Attention to detail while focusing on the big picture; ability to communicate and influence; experience. 

Q: WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? 

After a 35 year career in financial services, becoming Head of internal Audit in a global bank. It’s a job that truly benefits from every job I have done along the way. 

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

Sameness is the biggest danger of all to internal audit. Diversity (in all its forms) is desperately important in order to ensure different voices and perspectives. Being inclusive is also important to ensure that we all feel valued, can bring our whole self to work, and therefore able to perform to the best of our abilities.   

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

Analytics-driven. Auditors will use all data available to them, to seek out problems and predict problems. There will be fewer, more experienced, and technically proficient auditors. 

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

To cope with the demands of new regulation, regulators' expectations of internal audit, cost pressures, volume of work, speed of change.

Q: WHY DO YOU THINK AUDIT IS COOL?

Our job continuously challenges us to think and to look at the big picture. It needs a wide mix of skills from analytical thinking and communication to data analysis and writing which means that you never get bored.

Q: FINALLY, WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?

Listen to music, go to the opera, go to the theatre and socialise with friends. 

 

 

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.