When Alison Williams, CIA, CISA, found herself impacted by a pandemic-related workforce reduction near the end of 2020, she decided to apply for AuditBoard and The IIA’s Elevate Internal Audit Scholarship as she considered what kind of future role she wanted to pursue in her career. “I explored the Elevate Scholarship because of the pandemic,” said Alison. “Looking at business costs across the world, there have been a lot of furloughs and reductions in force, and I was impacted by one of the waves of reductions of force at my last employer — so it was a perfect time for me to explore if I wanted to continue in corporate America or if I wanted to consider something different with my audit profession.”
An IIA survey found that 21% of audit teams were forced to reduce staff in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. Like Alison, many audit professionals found themselves furloughed or jobless, and looking for affordable ways to remain current with their continuing education. AuditBoard partnered with The IIA to help those affected by creating the Elevate Internal Audit Scholarship. Elevate is a grant program that provides access to industry training and professional certifications for internal auditors who have experienced a layoff or furlough due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic pressures. The program provides scholarships and a custom curriculum to help internal auditors in the United States and Canada build next-generation skills and better position them to secure new career placements.
Like many audit professionals, Alison found the Elevate Scholarship’s courses of study provided an opportunity to be purposeful about the next steps for her career — once she decided to pursue the program. “I almost didn’t apply for the scholarship because of how much research and continuing education I currently work on, but when I stepped back and considered it, I saw that it would give me some time to increase my skill set.” Alison entered the program with experience in third-party oversight, regulatory compliance, governance, and enterprise risk management. She chose this opportunity to focus on courses to refresh her capabilities with automation and data mining, and to enhance her data analysis skills with new ways to incorporate data sampling into various phases of the audit process. Her curriculum focused on fraud risk in today’s world has already given her new ideas to help an organization implement continuous monitoring. Alison looks forward to using her data analytics and fraud identification skills for a more comprehensive management of business risks.
Based on her experience with the courses offered, Alison feels the Elevate Scholarship is relevant for internal audit professionals at any stage of their career to build confidence for that next position or next certification exam. “The people who I’ve referred to this program have been very happy that I took the time to make a quick call to say, ‘Hey, I think you should consider this.’ It’s ranged from people who have just a couple of years of experience in audit to executive management that I’ve referred to the Elevate Scholarship.” Those in Alison’s network who she’s referred have already benefited from the opportunity to refresh their skills, increase their marketability with technical skills or certifications, or explore career options in new and emerging areas — not to mention fulfilling the scramble to meet Continuing Professional Educational requirements.
Alison has found the Elevate Scholarship valuable as a way to explore what type of role she wants to take on next, while putting herself in a strong position to pursue it. “My key message is that you’re in control of your future. You fill out the application, complete the courses at your pace, fit it into your schedule and find out what you want to do with them.”
If you or someone you know have experienced furloughs or layoffs and are pursuing a career in internal audit, we encourage you to learn more or apply for a scholarship at auditboard.com/elevate.