In my role as President and CEO of The IIA, I am always mindful that we stand on the shoulders of many great leaders who came before us. The Institute was founded by a group of visionary internal audit professionals almost 70 years ago, and it has never looked back. Today we embrace almost 170,000 members globally in 165 countries.
I recently had the opportunity to visit here at IIA Headquarters with Duane Wilson, who we believe to be our most senior living past chairman. He was the Chairman of the Board of The IIA in 1969-1970. To offer some perspective on how long ago that was, most of our current members were probably not yet born. And I was but a 15-year-old high school student who had not yet even heard of internal auditing.
Duane was Chairman of The Board when The Institute was still headquartered in New York. While his year as chairman was a very successful one, it would be the coming decade of the 1970s that brought some of the most dramatic and enduring changes for The IIA. In 1972, The Institute relocated from New York to Orlando, Fla. In 1974, the first Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) examinations were administered. In 1976, The IIA Research Foundation was established. And in 1978, the first internal audit Standards were published.
Not only did Duane have a front row seat to these important events, but he was one of the key architects for many of them. During his visit, he shared many personal observations and experiences related to those milestones from the 1970s. He answered the question that I often hear: Why did The IIA relocate from New York to Orlando? Duane said it was simple. The IIA wanted to hire a highly qualified CEO (executive vice president) who lived in Orlando. The new CEO would only accept the position if The IIA relocated here. The Board was convinced of the advantages of being located in Florida, and the rest is history. (Incidentally, that CEO, John Harmon, still resides in the Orlando area and was recently featured in IIA Today.)
Duane also served on the original Board of Regents, and recounted how the Board actually wrote the first questions for the CIA exam. A few months after the Board was chartered, the Chairman passed away suddenly, and Duane was asked to assume the role of chairman. In many respects, he was one of the founding fathers of one of the most successful global certifications in the world today. Duane was amazed that we will soon be awarding the 100,000th CIA certificate.
When our visit was concluded, Duane left us to return to his retirement home in the Chicago area. He promised to return to Orlando in 2011 to help us celebrate the 70th anniversary of The Institute of Internal Auditors. Duane’s visit left us with a renewed respect for the extraordinary contributions of the leaders who have come before us.