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The best way to become a future Internal Audit Leader? Join a book club, without books

26/06/2018 by Andy Winterburgh

Valeria Photo

Finding a Place to Enable Change and Growth

On Thursday night, I attended The Audit Book Club (TABC).  TABC is the brainchild of M&G’s Chief Auditor Valeria Locatelli.  With Diversity and Inclusion at its core, it offers a forum for Internal Auditors to discuss ideas and common challenges, to build their networks and to receive mentoring from senior Internal Audit leaders.

Valeria decided to set it up “because she wanted to enable change and growth in the auditors of the future and to allow them to become the leaders they want to be.”  It’s been a major success and as a result Valeria has justifiably been shortlisted for a “Women in Finance” award. 

As it’s called “The Audit Book Club” and we were given a reading list in advance of the event, I approached M&G’s offices, where it was being hosted, feeling a bit of a fraud on two counts.  Firstly, I’m not an Auditor and secondly, I hadn’t read any of the books….

"Books Are Dreams You Hold In Your Hands"

For some of you it’s probably more of a surprise to learn that a recruiter can actually read a book than that I hadn’t read one on this specific occasion.  Either way, it was just as well that, while everyone else was an Auditor, no one else seemed to have done the reading either.  

It was therefore a relief to many of us that, while “books are dreams you hold in your hand” (according to author Neil Gaiman) perhaps ironically, books didn’t in fact feature on the night.

A Melting Pot of Attendees From All Stages of Their Lives and Careers

The forty or so attendees were a diverse group in terms of; stage of life, seniority and came from a broad range of employers.  Amit Singhania, felt that “it’s a melting pot of different people at different places in their lives and careers and provides a fantastic forum to share and learn from each other.”  So really anyone looking to broaden their network, receive mentoring or enhance their personal and career development would find benefit in attending.

Inspirational Coaching and Mentoring

We were given a warm welcome first by Valeria and then by David Stuart, Group Chief Auditor at Prudential Plc, who spent a few minutes sharing with us his thoughts and personal experiences of one of the themes for the evening “friendship in the work place”.

Two brilliant professional coaches, Katherine Tulpa and Ian McDowell, then took centre stage and gave a brief presentation which left everyone inspired and energised.   Feeling positive and enthused about our personal development and as yet untapped potential, we left the auditorium to enjoy some refreshments and broke out into smaller groups for further discussion with the mentors.

Dreams, Resilience, Growth and Nurturing

The themes for the evening were: dreams, resilience, growth and nurturing.  The two coaches and some of the industry mentors: Sue Gibson from Prudential, Rachael Fittall and Mark Gotts from Fidelity, Violaine Gomar from Europ Assistance and Shuvo Banerjee from Grant Thornton led the discussions and created a safe space to be open and share experiences.

Everyone was clearly very engaged and got a lot out of their time together, so after the event I was interested in hearing what people got from the evening.  Angela Craca, Senior Audit Manager at Invesco, enjoys attending because “It’s truly inspirational. Every time I leave the event I feel energised, positive and trust myself more.”

When talking to the mentors you get the sense that they really want to provide support to the profession beyond their own teams.  Mark Gotts, Chief Auditor at Fidelity said, “The Book Club is a fantastic opportunity for some more senior people to help develop the next generation of Internal Auditors.”  

This is clearly something which is recognised and valued by the people attending.  Athina Kostaridi from M&G (who manages membership of TABC) is impressed that “senior people are so open and happy to support and guide you”.  Andrea Chng was attending for the second time because “there are lots of amazing people to learn from and grow both in Internal Audit and in our personal lives”.

Get Serious About Your Career At The Next Book Club

The Audit Book Club meets every couple of months. The next event is being hosted by Barclays on the theme of Agile in Audit.  

If you are serious about career development or if, like Rachael Fittall, Director at Fidelity, you just want to “expand your network and bounce ideas of people about diverse topics” you should contact Athina Kostaridi at M&G and join the only Book Club you’ll ever join which will advance your personal development and you won’t even have to read a book.