Greetings from Canada, where I am attending the second annual Canadian Conference in Quebec City. I am impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the profession here, and the conference has been packed with informative and timely sessions that address the challenges and opportunities facing internal auditors. The conference will close with an afternoon Canadian Audit Leaders Forum, and I have been asked to deliver some remarks to open the event. Among other topics, I plan to highlight for the audience what I view as the characteristics of a highly successful 21st century chief audit executive (CAE).
Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to partner with, and assess the internal audit operations of, dozens of extraordinarily talented CAEs. A couple of years ago, one of my clients (a Fortune 500 company in the transportation industry) was preparing to undertake a search for a new CAE. The CEO asked me what attributes he should be looking for in this important executive role. I gave it some thought and decided to conduct my own informal research before giving an answer. My objective was to identify the proverbial “seven characteristics of highly successful CAEs” that I could provide to the CEO as this search was about to take place. In the ensuing days, I went back through the results of a myriad of quality assurance assessments of high-performing internal audit functions and identified a list of 10 departments that I felt were the absolute best I had seen. In every instance, they were being led by extraordinary CAEs. Next, I inventoried the traits of these CAEs to identify which characteristics they shared. The following are the seven traits that I shared with the CEO preparing to undertake his search.
I realize that my list is unscientific, and somewhat subjective. If you have other attributes that you believe should be emphasized, I would encourage you to share them here and with others.