Non-traditional paths into internal audit: Q&As with two rising stars

7 min read | Lorraine Twist | Article |

traditional paths into internal audit

Excellent progression opportunities, attractive salaries, and varied work – internal audit is a reputable career path that’s always in demand as result of constant changes in regulations and organisations’ governance in an ever-evolving market.

Internal auditors are highly skilled professionals, with strong verbal and written communication skills, analytical ability, integrity, and organisational dexterity. If you have these qualities, then internal audit may be a career option worth considering, especially since ‘audit manager’ was rated the best job in the UK in Glassdoor’s 2019 Report – scoring an impressive 4.6/5 overall and 4.5/5 for job satisfaction specifically.

Look beyond the traditional route

A common path into internal audit is to obtain a degree in accounting and finance, then go straight into an external audit role within a practice firm, such as EY, KPMG, Deloitte, or PwC, before ultimately transitioning into internal audit.

However, there are other routes into internal audit, that don’t first require you to work in external audit. You can, in fact, start your internal audit journey straight after university, A Levels, or even GCSEs.

We interviewed Kieran Coult, apprentice audit analyst at Lloyd’s Banking Group and Chartered IIA Awards 2023 winner of the Judges’ Award for Outstanding Apprentice, and Husam Al Jabbar, internal auditor at Hays, to discuss their alternative routes into the profession.

Q&A with Kieran Coult


Can you talk us through your experience so far on the Lloyds Banking Group apprenticeship programme?

Kieran: I joined Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) in 2020, aged 18, straight from sixth form college. My experience at LBG has been fantastic so far, with endless amounts of career opportunities.

We rotate through different internal audit teams and earn promotions as we progress. I’ve successfully completed placements in the consumer banking, treasury finance, applied sciences, insurance, pensions and investments and strategy and change audit teams. After completion, we then have the opportunity to move into a permanent job within the organisation – I hope specialise in strategy and change internal auditing.

What has the LBG audit apprenticeship scheme taught you?

Kieran: As well as developing the skills essential to becoming a competent internal auditor, the apprenticeship scheme also develops key soft skills that help you raise your profile within the organisation. I’ve made it a commitment of mine to personally deliver multiple school, junior scholar, and apprenticeship educational, recruitment, and onboarding activities, as well as organising and hosting a number of large team meetings and events.

For school leavers considering taking that step into the world of work as an alternative to university, it’s an excellent opportunity for young professionals to kickstart their careers, develop the skills essential to progress in a professional working environment, as well as learn from experienced colleagues.

Why would you recommend a career in internal audit?

Kieran: Internal audit provides a unique opportunity to gain exposure to various aspects of an organisation. You work across different departments, processes, and business units, allowing you to develop a deep understanding of how an organisation operates as a whole.

It’s a value-adding role, as internal auditors play a crucial role in providing independent and objective assessments of an organisation's operations. By identifying weaknesses in internal controls, recommending process improvements, and evaluating risk management practices, you will help your organisation enhance their overall efficiency, effectiveness, and governance.

What’s your advice to anyone who’s interested in getting into internal audit?

Kieran: I would advise anyone interested in this career to sharpen their analytical and critical thinking abilities so that you’re able to effectively assess risks, evaluate controls, and provide valuable recommendations. Other skills to focus on improving are communication and interpersonal skills, which are essential for being able build relationships, as well as clearly convey findings, recommendations, and insights to stakeholders. You should also be building your business acumen – understand the industry, business processes, and strategy of the organisation you hope to work for.

Also, pursuing relevant professional certifications, such as the Internal Audit Practitioner (IAP) and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) will demonstrate your commitment to the profession and enhance your credibility.

Finally, and most importantly, be inquisitive and ask questions!

Q&A with Husam Al Jabbar

Can you talk us through your career so far?

Husam: I studied an economic degree at the University of Surrey and, as part of that, I had a placement year as a financial analyst. At the end of my time at university, I was applying for jobs and saw the Hays graduate scheme. It stood out to me as it was based in a shared service centre where you see different parts of finance and have rotations in various teams. I’ve now been with Hays since 2017 and have been in my current role of group internal auditor since October 2022, a position I managed to secure as a result of one of my graduate scheme rotations being in that team.


What do you enjoy most about working in internal audit?

Husam: Hays operates in 33 countries, so every six weeks we’re travelling to a new country, we're speaking to people we've never met before, we get to ask if their control environment is secure and challenge them if we feel improvements need to be made. It’s an exciting opportunity that offers great variety and so many opportunities to learn.

“The position offers a lot that you wouldn't normally see in finance roles, so it really puts you outside of your comfort zone.”

I really enjoy the travel element – with this job I’ve been to Mannheim in Germany, Budapest, Florida, Lisbon and Dublin, to name just a few. It’s been great experiencing new cultures and interacting with local people and, on a professional level, it’s been valuable learning about best practices from the countries I’ve visited.

Why would you recommend the Hays graduate scheme?

Husam: Graduate schemes, by their nature, give you the opportunity to rotate through different specialisms, so you really do get to see how the business works. You get to see how a business runs in the background, while being able to study at the same time. I can certainly talk for hours about the graduate scheme. I can't sing its praises enough and I’d highly recommend anyone interested in a career in internal audit explores this as a possible route.

To see the types of roles that are available in this profession, check out our extensive selection of internal audit vacancies


About this author

Lorraine Twist, National Director - Professional Services UKI, Hays

articleId- 61122871, groupId- 20151