Nearly two dozen former IIA chairmen had traveled to the 75th anniversary International Conference in New York. Now they all were gathered in one room ahead of the night’s gala to celebrate the milestone moment. The interaction among so many former IIA leaders, decked out in tuxedos and evening dresses, gave the room an energy that was palpable.
As I mingled among the crowd renewing old acquaintances, it dawned on me not just that the room held close to 1,000 years of collective internal audit experience, but also that The IIA was built by these very people and their predecessors. The IIA, like many professional associations, came from humble beginnings and thrived on the countless hours of volunteer work from its members. But it was the vision of The IIA’s founding fathers and the fortitude and commitment of those who followed that positioned the organization for greatness.
The profession has changed immensely in the seven-plus decades since the founding fathers — Victor Brink, John Thurston, and Robert Milne — gathered at the Williams Club in New York City at the first organizational meeting on Sept. 23, 1941. Truth be told, internal auditing today bears little resemblance to the accounting-driven profession in which The IIA’s founders worked. Yet, fed by a desire to safeguard organizations and an unwavering commitment to accountability and integrity, these dreamers recognized the potential for internal auditing to do so much more.
Great leadership and vision didn’t end there. Throughout The IIA’s history others emerged who played pivotal roles in nurturing its growth and expanding vital services to its members. Bradford Cadmus, The IIA’s first managing director, was indispensable in the organization’s formative years. Larry Sawyer’s writing helped codify the fundamentals of the profession that are as true today as when Sawyer’s Internal Auditing — now titled Sawyer’s Guide for Internal Auditors — was first published in 1973.
Others, such as Mortimer Dittenhofer, helped create the profession’s bible, The International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing, and greatly influenced internal auditing in the public sector. More recently, lifetime commitments to the organization by the likes of former IIA chairmen Bill Taylor and Patty Miller continued The Institute’s march toward greatness.
Indeed, those of us lucky enough to be part of today’s IIA stand on the shoulders of giants, and we are forever indebted to their dedication, passion, and vision.