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#auditiscool An Interview with Willem-Jan Megans

11/03/2020 by Andy Winterburgh

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For the 1st time in 2020 our MD Andy Winterburgh  has been out and about again working on our mission to raise awareness that #auditiscool.  This time he’s gone global, interviewing Willem-Jan Megans - Global Chief Auditor of Dutch banking giant, ING.  Keep reading to find out about Willem-Jan's career and why he thinks #auditiscool.

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

I started my career with PwC and qualified as a Chartered Accountant.  I continued with PwC and progressed to a Senior Manager level before joining ING Corporate Audit Services in 2007. I held various roles, mainly in the Wholesale Banking and Risk Management areas, before being promoted as the Chief Audit Executive of ING in December last year. 

Why did you decide to move into Internal Audit

I wasn’t planning to, to be honest. It was more a leap of faith when being approached.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy meeting various colleagues globally both within and outside internal audit.  The profession of an internal auditor is so broad that every day is truly different each day. You learn so much about the organization, the industry, people. It is a great place to be. 

How has the experience you gained prior to working in Internal Audit been of benefit?

Big 4 experience has shaped me with the professionalism, relationship management discipline which are key for my role. 

What key leadership lessons have you learnt?

Basically that you need good people around you and that you need to take care of them. Let them flourish.

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

How do you exercise your influence to change the organization for the better? I believe the true quality of an internal auditor is not their technical skills, but rather how they are able to influence people to change. Technical skills are needed, don’t get me wrong, and is the basis of what we do. But an internal auditor does not add any value writing audit reports when nothing happens with them. 

What skills do you think will be most important for the auditor of the future?

We live in a digital world which is ever expanding – hence technology and data analytics are quite key for the auditor of the future.  But likewise, as I said before, influencing skills are also a must have. 

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

a. AVP – Continue to specialize and invest in soft skills.

b. VP – Start running a portfolio of audits including relationship management for a particular area.

c. Director – Fortify your personal brand; use innovation to solve at least a couple of core problems we face. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

You are only as good as the team supporting you. Make sure you surround yourselves with good people.

Why do you think diversity and inclusion is so important?

Diversity and inclusion is hard work, but essential to achieve the best results. Without, you will likely create some blind spots which can be devastating.  

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

The ever changing skillset of our people. Looking at sustainability (climate change), technological innovation, new and increased regulations, data management in all its aspects will be key challenges for IA over the next 12 months in order to stay relevant. 

What do you do to relax?

Long distance running and triathlons.

Why do you think Audit is cool?

As I said before, this is the only area which can give you the total picture of how a process actually works.  Audit equips a person with creativity, communication and perseverance – all qualities of successful leaders.  It makes you a thorough, organized and inquisitive person – as long as you keep your curiosity and questioning mind live, you will never grow old or out of fashion.  Hence Audit is cool.