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The role of an internal auditor

Within Corporate Governance

With the growing importance of Internal Audit jobsHays Senior Finance speaks to Rania Bejjani, Head of Internal Audit, Risk & Security at COLT Telecom Group Limited, about life as an internal auditor and the skills needed to succeed within Corporate Governance.

Hays: What was the biggest decision you had to make along the way?

RB: Choosing the people who will work with you. Having the right team, with the right mix of skills, enthusiasm and drive are critical. A good team fuels your energy, makes things happen and achieves objectives. We spend a good portion of our time at work, and it is very important to celebrate together our successes and have fun along the way. 

What would you say is most appealing about your role?

The privileged insight we have into all company’s dealings, functions, teams, systems and processes. Internal Audit is like a window to the entire organisation and provides us with a unique opportunity to understand and work collaboratively with the business. Also, the multitude of people we interact with and the diversity of project we are involved in.

What made you choose this career?

Internal Audit gives me the opportunity to utilise my attributes and apply my skill set to help the organisation manage risks better, raise awareness on risks and controls and work with the business to continuously improve our systems and processes and therefore achieve better results.

What do you look for in a new recruit?

Generally, technical base and abilities on which we can build is the most important starting point. To be good auditors, candidates need to understand accounting, systems, operational factors, commercial drivers of a business and be able to assess risks and controls.

Communication skills (verbal and written) are paramount. Eagerness to learn, develop further and achieve is critical. Good analytical skills and the ability to understand then explain complicated concepts into simple user-friendly steps are also great bonuses.

Any tips for progression?

As long as candidates have the right attitude towards learning, challenge, change and feedback, they will develop quickly into exciting roles and evolve their career path. 

To progress quickly to a senior management position, the most important thing I learnt is to think like one. I mean, focusing, prioritising, engaging with people and communicating effectively. Needless to say, professionalism, integrity and ethics are a prerequisite for risk professional.

Describe an average day.

My time is divided between Internal Audit and Security. I could be heavily involved in a Security project or facilitating a Risk Management workshop with divisional managers. I review audit reports with the team and meet with the Board and/or the Audit Committee.

I spend time building relationships in the business and listening to management, and also guiding and coaching my team in their continuous development.  My direct management team and I meet on a weekly basis and we hold fortnightly meetings with the whole team.

What is most rewarding about your role?

As a risks professional, having identified some issues, either through a Security investigation or an Internal Audit review, we work with the business to resolve them then see the improvements take effect and yield benefits to the organisation.

As a leader, I value the team spirit we have and I invest in our talent.  It is most rewarding when I see team members evolve, develop and expand their potential.


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