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Marcus Panton - Director of Audit and Risk recruitment, Risk Management...

Is Internal Audit a good 1st move into industry?


With this year’s ACA results just out, I asked myself a question the other day that I am sure will resonate with a number of people in the corridors of practice firms all over the country…’is internal audit a good 1st career step for a recently qualified accountant looking for their 1st job in industry’?

I started recruiting people into internal audit in the year 2000 and I’ve directly and indirectly recruited over 2500 people into internal audit over that time so I’m well placed to answer this question. However, I thought the best way to answer it was to reach out to the 1st person I ever placed and ask them what they had to say…

Let me introduce Doug Glenday, Finance Director for iLUKA, a sports and entertainment company*

When I 1st contacted Doug in early 2000, Doug was working with PWC and he’d just qualified with his ACA’s.  I can’t remember how many opportunities we looked at together, but eventually I placed him into Johnson Matthey, a FTSE100 speciality chemicals company. Doug started his career with Johnson Matthey’s Internal Audit team in May 2000 and spent the next 12 years rising through the ranks all the way up to Corporate Development Manager. In 2012 Doug left to join CBRE (the US Real Estate company) as their Head of Finance Operations before joining iLUKA in 2014.

Here are the questions I asked Doug:

Q/ Why did you choose IA as your 1st move?

Q/ What advice would you give someone qualifying today?

IA is a great way to get into and learn all about a company and it’s hard to find a more hands-on job that will give you practical experience of how a company actually works. It takes what you’ve learnt in practice to another level, you start to really understand risk and because you are working for the company (and not externally reviewing it), you’re doing something more beneficial and adding value.

I also wanted to travel and spend time working in other countries and at Johnson Matthey I got spend about 2 weeks every month in different locations all over the World, which was great. In 2002, I was promoted into a Finance Manager role and then in 2004, I moved to Japan for 3 years as a Financial Controller.

What advice would you give someone qualifying now?

Choose a company where IA is really appreciated and whose scope goes beyond basic financial review. Choose an audit team that looks at all the processes surrounding production and operations as well as finance. Look for a company that can demonstrate progression from IA into other finance functions (if that is what you are after).

Choose a boss who will stretch you, challenge you and who has a good track record of developing people. When deciding between opportunities, the right company and the right boss should always trump salary.

Some of the work is still theoretical and every business will have some elements that still see you as a requirement rather than a benefit. Personally, I really enjoyed the challenge of working with stakeholders who viewed us this way - engaging with and influencing stakeholders is a great skill to develop.

You need to decide what direction you want to go and how long you stay in IA. Do you want to move up within IA or move into the business? There will always be more top finance jobs to aspire to than heads of internal audit positions.

*You can check out Doug’s career on LinkedIn so you can see exactly how he got to where he is today.

If you're wondering what a career in Internal Audit can do for you, come and talk to the consultants at the Audit & Risk Recruitment Company. We've been recruiting people into internal audit for 15 years for all types of company in all the different sectors. We're currently recruiting for roles with zero travel all the way up to 100% travel, so there's something for everyone.

Contact me (in confidence) -