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#auditiscool An Interview with Steve Evenden

15/10/2018 by Andy Winterburgh

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This week, for the last in our current #auditiscool interview, I very much enjoyed catching up with Steve Evenden. 

After many years working in Internal Audit and now Chief Internal Auditor at MS Amlin we talked all things IA, as well as our shared passion of running - it turns out he's faster than me...

Hello Steve, great to see you again and welcome to your interview.

Can you tell us about your career journey? Where you started and how you progressed. 

I qualified as a Chartered Accountant and upon qualification decided I wanted to leave practice. I joined the Corporate Banking internal audit team at Barclays, which turned out to be one of the best career decisions I have made. I found my niche in Internal Audit and during 12 challenging and rewarding years at Barclays progressed from Audit Senior to Director, leading the UK Retail Banking audit team.  During my time at Barclays I gained experience across all areas of the Corporate and Retail Bank.  

I then joined AXA as Chief Audit Executive, UK & Ireland, which was an opportunity to lead a function, manage regulatory responsibilities and develop board relationships.  This role allowed me to broaden my Retail Financial Services experience by developing my knowledge of the insurance and asset management sectors.

I had a great 4 years at AXA before leaving to join MS Amlin as Chief Internal Auditor in January 2017.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

The variety and influence that Internal Audit offers.  It really is true that no day is the same.  I continue to really appreciate and enjoy the unique firm wide view our role in internal audit provides.  I also enjoy the people, which are the main asset in any internal audit function.

What is the proudest achievement in your career to date? 

I am most proud of building and developing great teams.   I have built many teams during my career and am most proud of the number of people I have hired, developed and worked with who have gone on to challenging roles across the industry. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing others succeed.  

What key leadership lessons have you learnt? 

The biggest lesson is that change is a constant and as a leader should be embraced. I have learned that as soon as you think your job is done there is a surprise around the corner!  Get used to change and learn to see the opportunities it brings to evolve and improve.

If you only had 5 minutes to interview someone for an IA role what question(s) would you ask them? 

I would ask the individual about their motivations for working in Internal Audit and ask questions to confirm the individual possessed the communication and people skills that are essential to succeed an Internal Audit role.  Finally, I would want to understand the unique skills and experiences they would bring to the team.

What career advice would you give to an Internal Auditor at each of the following levels of seniority;

AVP - Be inquisitive and don’t stop asking questions. The key to developing at this level is to learn as much as possible about the company and sector you are working in and about audit practice and methodology.  

VP - You are a project manager and the key to success is planning.  Break down each audit and set key milestones.  Use these to challenge your team and motivate them to deliver. From a business perspective always communicate; it is true that no one likes surprises. By communicating issues early they can often be resolved or confirmed.

Director - Learn to delegate and trust in your people, the key to success is to invest in the development of your team. From a business perspective learn to step back and see the bigger picture, develop the ability to pinpoint the issues or root causes that really matter.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

It would probably be to be prepared to “take a risk”, which is not something that typically comes naturally to internal auditors!! I have found that to be innovative with audit practice and methodologies you need to take a chance and just try something. It doesn’t always work out, but better to have tried and learn from the experience.  That’s the key to embracing the recent Agile Audit messages and developments.

Why do you think diversity and inclusion is so important?

I have always been of the view diversity is particularly important to effective Internal Audit teams. The best teams I have worked in have always been diverse, with varied career and life experiences. I passionately believe that the ability to have a range of inputs and different perspectives strengthens audit output. By bringing different views and experiences to the table when planning audits and reviewing reports the quality of the output is always going to be stronger. It is also far more interesting to work day-to-day with a team that is not all the same – celebrate difference!

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the Internal Audit Industry in the next 12 months? 

The challenge remains being able to prioritise key issues for the firms and industries in which we operate. Helping management and boards navigate the competing internal, regulatory and commercial challenges (including technological change) is a key role of Internal Audit. I have found there has always been a new issue or threat on the horizon from the millennium bug to GDPR and Brexit, but the key to success in Internal Audit is to identify the risks and assist management in prioritising projects and remediation plans.

What do you do to relax?

Now that would be running, which may come as a surprise to my former Barclays colleagues (Let’s just say I use to be a little heavier!!).  

I took up running in 2015, after my wife joined a local running group and became a ParkRun regular. I decided to follow and having completed the JP Morgan race in July 2015 I decided to set myself the challenge of running a marathon. I ran the Brighton marathon in April 2016 and have since embraced running as a key part of my life.   

I find running is a great stress reliever and provides time to clear my head after a long day.  I often find that new ideas or solutions to problems occur to me during a long-run!  I recently completed my 14th marathon in the New Forest with a new PB of 3 hours 26 minutes.  

And finally, why do you think Audit is cool?

I have found Internal Audit to be a rewarding, energising, stimulating and enjoyable career and it really does give you a new challenge every day

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