In an exclusive interview, Internal Auditor – Middle East spoke to Karl Hendricks, QIAL who is currently a Partner in KPMG Lower Gulf Limited and leads the Consulting practice. He has over 18 years of experience in providing Risk & Management Consultancy including areas such as Internal Audit, Risk Management, Corporate Governance, Forensics and Business Process Re-engineering to clients both locally and internationally. Karl also resides on the Executive Team within KPMG and also looks after Risk Consulting across the Middle East and South Asia region. Karl is an active supporter of the UAE Internal Audit Association (UAE-IAA) and is a member of its executive committee.
Internal Auditor – Middle East met with Karl Hendricks at KPMG’s offices in Dubai.
How has KPMG developed internal audit leaders across our region?
At KPMG, we take great pride in our training programs and the training of our Internal Audit professionals. We recognize that our staff not only interact with middle management, but also with industry leaders.
To that end, we focus greatly on transforming our staff into leaders and have a global internal initiative called the ‘Emerging Leaders Program’ wherein high potential KPMG staff, including Internal Audit, undergo extensive leadership trainings.
What have you gained from earning the Qualification in Internal Audit Leadership (QIAL)?
I felt that the qualification immediately enhanced my profile within the region as the first senior internal audit professional amongst the Big Four to obtain the qualification.
In Addition to my existing qualifications that I had obtained a few years back, I find that the qualification to be a good medium for keeping up with recent trends and needs that are to be demonstrated by a leader.
What are the most important skills for an internal audit leader?
In my opinion, an Internal Audit Leader should have great interpersonal skills, the ability to be objective and be a strategic partner who will strive to add value to an organization.
What do you think is the difference between a good internal audit leader and a great one?
A great Internal Audit Leader would be the one who acts as driver for a change within an organization. He would not just be perceived as a trusted advisor, but would also act as one I would think that he should be the first person a CEO / C level would call to consult.
What are some initiatives that Chief Audit Executives (CAEs) can work on in order to lead positive change in their organizations?
A leader has to be the change he wants to see in the organization. CAEs need to have the ability to envision and reach the standards he wishes to instill in the organization. He should consider a healthy mix of assurance and advisory mandates as a part of the audit plan with an aim to add value and assist organizations in the achievement of their goals.
“As an internal audit leader in today’s fast paced and dynamic market, you need to keep your finger on the pulse to provide innovative responses relevant to market changes’ and ensure you are ahead of the curve to meet business needs”
How can CAEs become more strategic in their positioning and thinking?
The CAE should work towards becoming part of the strategic or key operational teams so as to steer their thinking in the direction of a company’s goals and plans. However, this is an important area not to compromise their objectivity and independence. CAEs should contribute to an organization’s strategy and growth plans by providing their insights into strategic issues and business operations and, not being so prescriptive on internal controls.
Based on your experience within the region, how are audit committees evaluating the effectiveness of a CAE’s leadership abilities?
Primarily by KPIs focusing on leadership capabilities such as relationship-oriented KPIs with C-suite members. Second, audit committees focus on contribution of CAE’s ability to articulate control and risk issues and its impact on business strategy during board and committee meetings. Numerous audit committee also assess the proactive involvement with various internal and external stakeholders such as regulators, external auditors amongst others by using feedback forms.
Finally, what advice do you have for CAEs looking to improve their leadership skills?
I believe that CAEs should continuously strive to invest time for self-development. They should ensure they are being more relevant with business and auditing skills. Aspiring CAEs should try their best to move away from ‘traditional audit’ and introduce innovative trends such as Data Analytics, Cyber Security and Continuous Monitoring.