Many accountants and people in public accounting are participating in the social media blitz of #AuditorProud on September 22, 2016. (Yes, I realize I am a day late, and I often am with birthday cards also, so please bear with me.) I, too, consider myself #AuditorProud which may surprise many people as I am now nowhere near my audit roots. I began my career as an auditor for a public accounting firm that is in the top ten of public accounting firms today. Our clients were not publicly traded, but we had a fantastic client list that included some highly recognizable names within the manufacturing, academia and financial institution space (some that are publicly traded today). My public accounting experience then led to Internal Audit of a Fortune 500 company, where my skills as an auditor were even more honed.
Being an auditor (both internal and in public) was an incredible foundation for my overall accounting and finance career. But, the biggest lessons came not in the technical areas, but in the intangible skills that I still utilize today. Auditing taught me the value of:
How to interact with a variety of clients (i.e. people) – Some clients were more technically sound when it came to their accounting practices and some required more direction and hand-holding with technical matters. Knowing how to cater your methods to fit the client and/or team is integral to working successfully with people.
How to manage divergent views to get everyone on the “same team” – This may shock you, but not everyone likes the feedback or suggestions given by auditors. Sharing information, understanding of views and collaborating on solutions is the hallmark of a strong auditor.
Not being afraid to ask questions – Auditors ask questions. In some cases, they ask a LOT of questions. It is critical to doing a good job, any job, and is an important part of learning and growing.
Having confidence – Confidence is so critical to success, that I can’t overstate this point. It takes confidence to ask hard questions, present audit findings, and lead teams to resolution.
Completing your work – We had a partner that liked the people that could “tie the bow”, as he referred to bringing the audit to completion. You could audit all day long, but if you couldn’t get the audit points resolved, check off the outstanding points and write up the audit letter, then you simply were not able to “tie the bow”.
Meeting deadlines – Auditors are reminded about deadlines by clients (and the SEC). Clients don’t like missed deadlines. Therefore, auditors don’t like to miss them.
Multi-tasking – Auditors hone the multi-tasking skills. They get to work on a variety of clients, which means they can be juggling different audits in varying stages at one time.
The skills learned by people that begin their career in auditing provide a strong foundation for any undertaking. These skills can be used in every facet of life, and can help springboard you into roles that you can’t even imagine. That is why I am #AuditorProud today and every day.