In 2019, I shared a list of the internal audit thought leaders of the decade. The list alerted internal auditors around the world about outstanding men and women in our field who worked tirelessly to elevate and promote the internal audit profession through writing, speaking, use of social media and networking. The blog was so popular that I crafted a new list at the end of 2020 to recognize the ten thought leaders of the year.
After stepping down from The IIA in 2021, I promised to continue recognizing the internal audit thought leaders around the world who make a difference in our profession through annual “Internal Audit Beacon Awards.” At the end of the year, I recognized 12 thought leaders from 2021 as a A Dozen Who Made a Difference.
In November, I published a call for nominations for the 2022 awards, and was again amazed at the response. More than 35 names were submitted from 14 countries around the world. I was reminded of an awesome responsibility to evaluate each one with an objective assessment of their contributions. As I noted last year, the danger in compiling such a list is not in who gets included, but who might be slighted by being left off. So, let me offer my apologies in advance.
As with those recognized in the past, this year’s list is intended to acknowledge active contributions to advancing the profession through lectures, articles, publications, and social media during one of the most disruptive periods many of us have ever experienced. Some of those on my list are well known globally, while others may focus more on advancing the profession within their own regions of the world. In the end, I once again chose not to limit the recognition to just 10. There were at least a dozen in 2022 whose contributions I wanted to recognize this year.
I am proud of the diversity on this year’s list. Six of those recognized were not on the list in 2021. This year’s recipients come from four continents and reflect the global character of the internal audit profession. For each thought leader, I provided a very brief overview of their contributions, but to fully appreciate all that they do, I invite you to check out their LinkedIn profile (linked to each of their names). So, with all of the disclaimers out of the way, here they are in alphabetical order.
Alaba Awolaja – Nigeria. I first introduced Alaba to the global internal audit community when he was named to the list in 2020. Following an encore appearance last year, in 2022 he is being recognized for a 3rd consecutive year. Alaba remains a shining example of a bright young thought leader who is motivating and inspiring fellow internal auditors every day. In addition to encouraging others who are advocating for the profession or authoring his own thought provoking articles such as “Understanding Risk Assessment in 2023” or Internal Audit and Management: Clarifying Risk Assessment Roles, Alaba continues to make a difference. Twitter: @alabaawolaja
Robert Berry – USA.Robert’s tag line is that he “helps internal auditors ask better questions,” but it is also fair to note that Robert regularly provides “better answers.” For those reasons and many more, he is being recognized in back-to-back years as an Internal Audit Beacon. Known to the American profession as That Audit Guy,Robert was a prolific advocate for internal auditing in 2022. Twitter: @thatauditguy
Cynthia Cooper – USA.Cynthia’s is a name that is etched in the storied history of our profession. She was recognized as one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year in 2002 for her unwavering courage in uncovering the WorldCom Fraud. In 2022, Cynthia reemerged as a powerful advocate for strong and independent internal audit functions. She joined me in two of the most popular episodes of my Agents of Change videos for AuditBoard TV, and was a featured panelist on an ACFE webinar “From WorldCom to Theranos: The Journey of a Whistleblower.” I predict we will see and hear a lot more from Cynthia in the coming year as she launches her own podcast series and continues to be a revered advocate for internal audit.
David Hill – UK.In 2022, David emerged globally as a true internal audit beacon. But those of us who have known him have been taking inspiration from his visionary ideas for years. In the past year, David has emerged as a vocal advocate for greater collaboration with internal audit stakeholders and embracing agile approaches to drive internal audit effectiveness. But perhaps his most important contribution to the 2022 dialogue in the internal audit profession has been around the one-page audit report. Thought leaders like David Hill are among the reasons I believe the future of our profession is so bright.
Hal Garyn – USA. Hal is one of only two individuals to appear on all 4 lists of top internal audit leaders. In 2022, he continued to be a thoughtful and powerful voice in our profession. In 2022, he maintained a constant presence on key social media platforms, offering thoughtful provocative challenges to internal auditors to raise the bar in serving their organizations. Hal is also a prolific writer, and his articles on InternalAudit360.com have encouraged internal auditors to use their “spidey sense”and to become more proficient in the use of technology. But above all, Hal is a dynamic contributor on internal audit issues of the day on LinkedIn. If you do not follow Hal on there, you are truly missing out!
Sara James – UK.Sara is another 2022 internal audit beacon whose reputation precedes her. Whether speaking at IIA conferences in Luxembourg, London or Brussels, Sara is a fountain of knowledge in effective internal audit report writing. If I were giving out an award for “book of the year” for internal audit professionals, I would certainly award it to her outstanding manuscript: Radical Reporting: Writing Better Audit, Risk, Compliance and Information Security Reports.
Jenitha John – South Africa.As a former IIA Chairman of the Board of The IIA, Jenitha is well known to internal auditors around the world. As have many of her predecessors, Jenitha continued to advocate for the profession even after her tenure on the IIA Board came to an end. In the closing months of 2022, she was a selfless contributor to internal audit events in the Middle East, China and on popular media platforms like The Audit Room Podcast. She also contributed to the body of knowledge for risk management as a task force member in GRMI’s Model Risk Code Initiative. Twitter: @JenithaJohn
Dr. Rainer Lenz – Germany. No list of the world’s top internal audit thought leaders would be complete without Rainer. In 2022 he remained provocative (but always thoughtful) in sharing his points of view. Rainer co-authored what may be the profession’s most popular article of the year, the ‘Gardener of Governance’, which is (or will be) available in10 languages. Rainer’s article informs and inspires when it comes to the future of the profession. Rainer is always willing to contribute his knowledge and appeared virtually for internal audit conferences in Mexico, China and others. To hear Rainer’s views first hand, check out his appearances on at least two 2022 episodes of Audit 15 Fun podcasts. Twitter: @Rainer_Lenz
Norman Marks – USA. Norman has been named to all four top thought leaders list dating back to 2019. He simply remains one of the most thoughtful and influential champions for our profession in the world. His regular blog series is one that I always look to for inspiration (or occasionally provocation). As was evident in a recent AUDIT DUELvideo we recorded, we may not always agree, but we are jointly aligned in our passion for this profession. Twitter: @normanmarks
Liz Sandwith – UK. Once again, Liz was a seasoned voice of reason in 2022 for a profession dealing with unfamiliar risks like inflation and geopolitical conflict in Europe for the first time in decades. Her contributions to the internal audit profession in the UK and across Europe were important to the success of IIA UK and the ECIIA. But Liz is always ready to champion the profession around the world. Whether serving as a guest on AuditBoard TV, or a guest lecturer for China’s Nanjing Audit University, Liz was a beacon of knowledge and insight in 2022.
Sundaresan Rajeswar – Qatar. As one of the founders of IIA Qatar, Rajeswar is a widely respected advocate for internal audit in one of the profession’s fastest growing regions in the world. In 2022, he was a frequent and recognized voice for the internal auditing profession in The Middle East. His article on the top business risks for 2022 served as an early call to action for the regions rapidly growing profession Whether writing articles for The Gulf Times, being cited as an internal audit expert by other publications in the region, or hosting webinars for IIA Qatar, Rajeswar exemplifies the spirit of an internal audit beacon. Twitter: @Sundraje2
One of the trends I have noticed is that there are more and more deserving candidates for this recognition each year. There are too many deserving candidates to name them all, but their contributions do not go unnoticed. I should also reiterate that the criteria I first articulated in 2019 (when I was the CEO of The IIA) is still applicable, and IIA staff and current board members are not considered for the Internal Audit Beacon Awards. But their contributions to advancing the profession are vital. Thanks to Anthony Pugliese, Harold Silverman, Benito Ybarra and many others for their tireless efforts in advocating for internal auditors around the world.
I welcome your thoughts on this list, and please remain on the lookout for any insightful and timely pieces of thought leadership that are published.