The IIA International Conference – A Personal Reflection by OCM’s Cathy Blunt

Cathy Blunt, 09/08/2017

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) International Conference held in Sydney in July marked a pause (hopefully not the end) in a very big part of my working career as I am taking a break from IIA Committees and the Global Board.

While I joined the IIA as a member in 1995, I commenced my volunteering in 1999 as part of the SOPAC 2000 Conference Organizing Committee.  I am reliably informed that they will swiftly find me something else to do!

Joining the QLD Chapter Council in 2000, over the next 10 years, I helped to organise members meetings, conferences, courses and networking events. When I commenced, only a handful of “pioneering” women would attend members meetings, and were on the Chapter Council.

To find the wonderful women working in internal audit, we commenced the Women Working in Internal Audit Group, which was delivered less technical topics than the members meetings, and often featured fabulous women in other professions talking about their careers. So successful was this Group, that women are now strongly represented across the profession and at our events, but the topics were so good that men also clamoured to attend. And so, the Internal Audit Networking Group was launched.

From the QLD Chapter Council, I was nominated onto the Australian Board and was immediately involved in the more strategic end of supporting our profession in Australia. From there, I was nominated onto the IIA Global Board and several IIA Regional and Global Committees where I got to meet so many like-minded colleagues from across the World.

Turns out – we have the same issues (we all have that one manager…), no matter what country or industry you work in.

I have been fortunate to serve on the Professional Certifications Board, which oversees the IIA’s certifications, and was involved in launching the CRMA and QIAL programs, and to chair the IIA Global Audit Committee which has proven to be very challenging, and not only from the perspective of understanding US accounting standards and taxation rules. I will be happy to never again review a US 990 taxation form!!

Being offered the opportunity to bring the International Conference in Sydney again was too good an opportunity to pass up and I was delighted to be able to welcome my international colleagues in Sydney. Not only that, I was able to crow about having the shortest flight for a change!!

Being a “people-person”, the highlight for me was meeting and seeing delegates from across the world enjoying their time in Sydney, participating in the discussions, sharing their experiences and soaking in new ideas and advice. Of course, the delight on everyone’s face to be up close and personal with some of our iconic animals does not hurt, and even many of our Australian colleagues enjoyed cuddling the python!

I was fortunate to chair the Innovation Showcase Stream for the Conference, where the presentations were about exciting new practices, tools and developments in our profession.

We were introduced to the idea of using Agile Project Management concepts to our internal audit practices; using data to track how transactions are processed and show us where errors occur or controls fail; developing internal audit apps for client reporting; and using the power of videos to share the results of our audits; auditing the customer experience; how to use our creative powers for internal auditing good, and how to communicate with pizzazz!

Judging by the hundreds of smiling faces that greeted me every day, the International Conference was a resounding success and I hope the delegation from Cameroon took my advice to visit Taronga Zoo to find a kangaroo to feed before they went home!