By: Seth Peterson, Internal Audit Manager
May is International Internal Audit Awareness Month. As I noted in last year’s blog, most people probably don’t realize there is a month to celebrate the internal audit profession. As auditors, we work in organizations large and small, privately owned and publically traded on the stock exchange, and as part of the government sector. Whatever the organization, the auditors are charged with the mission to enhance and protect organizational value by providing risk-based and objective assurance, advice, and insight.
We can’t be successful in our role without the support and cooperation of everyone in our organization. That is why we take a little time each May to celebrate with our co-workers. In the past, we have served donuts, cookies, internal audit-branded chocolate bars, and a keg of root beer. Like most things in 2020, celebrating has looked a little different this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has created so much uncertainty in our daily lives. I take comfort in some of the certainties in life. One of these certainties is that a successful auditor can communicate effectively, think critically, and embody teamwork. These attributes can help anyone be successful, but I have found them to be extremely impactful for internal auditors. By shifting the focus of the attributes, I hope this blog can bring hope to all of us by helping us have compassion, think differently, and work together.
What if we spent a little more time empathizing and extending grace with one another? Everyone is dealing with the pandemic differently. If we share our hearts with our co-workers, friends, and neighbors, stronger relationships will result. These stronger relationships will help us communicate better and work more cohesively. As a Bank, we pride ourselves on building successful relationships. Times of crisis test relationships and strengthen them. We will emerge stronger and better equipped to handle future challenges by the grace and empathy we display during this trying time.
What if we took this time of uncertainty and change to reflect on our established processes and philosophies? As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of innovation. We have all been challenged in some way to live our lives differently, adapt quickly to a rapidly changing environment, and overcome obstacles. From what we learned from our response to this pandemic, we all have the opportunity to be more efficient and effective. What we once believed as fact, may no longer be true. As the CEO of The Institute of Internal Auditors has said, “We may have been on the right track before COVID-19, but the mode of transportation just changed.” I think we can all be proud of the direction we were moving before the pandemic, but nobody wants to be left at the station if we fail to innovate, adapt, or change. One thing for sure is that we are resilient, so we should have confidence no challenge is too big for us.
What if our first action was to ask how we could help? Too often, we look for solutions and try to move on. Many people are hurting, and there are exceptional stories of how people have stepped up to meet needs in the community. As a Bank, we answered that call by originating over $100 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, working with customers to defer loan payments during hardships, and most importantly, being the community Bank our community needs. Our help first mentality shouldn’t end with the pandemic. We have grown closer together and that has been a direct result of working as a team.
We are living in challenging and uncertain times, which requires us to lean on our strengths to get by. It has been incredible to see how employees of the Bank have pulled together to serve our community. We will thrive through this pandemic, ready to take on our next challenge. We will do so through empathy, thoughtfulness, and teamwork.