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An Interview with Teresa Thomson #auditiscool

22/09/2018 by Andy Winterburgh

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We were delighted this week to interview Teresa Thomson who is Head of Audit, People and Culture and a rising star at Lloyds Banking Group.
While she did not start her career in Internal Audit she has journeyed into a discipline that she loves and certainly thinks there is lots to make Audit cool. Have a read of her interview about how she came to work in Internal Audit, her advice and thoughts for the future of the industry and why she thinks it’s cool!
Hello Teresa, lovely to see you again.
Can you tell us about your career journey? Where you started and how you progressed.
I came to Internal Audit later on in my career. I started at Lloyds in 2014 as a Head of Audit for People & Culture and worked in Human Resources for 13 years. In that time I worked across most HR disciplines, building my experience in professional services and in international and multi-business roles. 
Working in HR I learned to appreciate the value of cultural diversity and the importance of investing time in properly understanding the context in which people are operating. 
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The 3 things that I most enjoy are: the diversity, collaboration and intellectual challenge. 
Every day you interact with diverse people across all parts of the the business who are striving to deliver value for our customers. 
I love the collaboration that is needed to quickly understand a business area, their strategic objectives, how they manage their risks and their challenges. 
And finally the intellectual challenge of working quickly and efficiently to identify the root causes of risk and control issues and communicate these to our business stakeholders with precision and clarity.
What is your proudest achievement in your career to date?
When I moved into IA as a Head of Audit without audit or financial services experience I faced a very steep learning curve.  My proudest achievement has been building a strong team whose work is valued and has helped the business improve its control environment.
What key leadership lessons have you learnt?
Firstly, have the confidence to be yourself. Secondly, everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Thirdly, build a team with different strengths to yours and finally, give your energy to the things that really matter 
If you only had 5 minutes to interview someone for an IA role what question(s) would you ask them?

Just two questions; What value does internal audit add and how will you add value to internal audit?
What career advice would you give to an Internal Auditor at: AVP, VP and Head of Audit/Director level?

For AVPs my advice would be to gain experience of planning and executing complex audits and show that you can lead a team and deliver quality.
For VPs, ensure you build your network internally and externally to be able to bring strategic perspective and insight to your work. Show that you can listen and bring people with you.
For Heads of Audit/Directors, as I work at this level so not sure I can give advice! But if I was speaking to a team-mate new into the role, I would probably say, try to maintain a balance between managing delivery, developing the team, understanding your business and building your knowledge.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Keep asking great questions and making decisions. 
Why do you think diversity and inclusion is so important?
Teamwork is essential in IA. We need diversity to bring different perspectives and we need to work inclusively so that all of those perspectives have a voice. Without these we have a very limited view. 
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the Internal Audit Industry in the next 12 months? 
I think we need to evolve quickly to be able to respond in a truly nimble way to the pace of change that we are facing. This includes how IA can have a positive and lasting impact on our business’ culture and we need to adapt our existing approaches to work with a different type of data and to be able to measure and demonstrate our impact.  At Lloyds IA, we are really focused on innovation and continuous improvement as part of our vision of helping to keep the Group safe and sustainable.
What do you do to relax?
I love to spend time hiking and wild camping with my family. I am a keen hill runner and try to complete a couple of big races each year. I’ll be running the Loch Ness marathon in September!
And finally, why do you think Audit is cool?
I think Audit is cool because it has all the ingredients for a great career: Learning, challenge, relationship building, team working, leadership, communication and impact.
Thanks Teresa, it's been great to catch up again and hear about the transition to Internal Audit.  


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