We have been celebrating and bringing awareness to the role that internal audit plays within any company during May, including Berkshire Bank. Today, we are interviewing a seasoned internal auditor, and we got to ask her about the role and some of the misconceptions people may have about what it is that auditors do.
Welcome, Melissa. Let’s start with the questions.
I was hoping you could share more on your role and how your team aligns with IIA and industry guidance to maintain a diverse and agile internal audit team with expertise in critical risk areas?
Well, my specialized role within the internal audit team aligns with my educational background and the specific IT experience I had before beginning this role. I previously worked at two Fortune500 corporations. My role and skillset help me provide the necessary expertise in a critical risk area for Berkshire Bank and the IA team. It adds to the team’s existing broad-based skillset by incorporating a solid understanding of general computer controls (GCCs), data analytics, basic system infrastructure, and the IT risk management framework.
That sounds like a lot. Does it require a significant investment in time and education for the team to stay current?
Yes, a minimum of 40 hours of general knowledge and targeted IT, audit, accounting, regulatory and product-specific training are required each year to remain current with IIA and industry guidance and the ever-changing regulatory and emerging risks that could impact the Bank. All members of the BerkshireInternal Audit team are also members of the IIA. Plus, as an IT Auditor, I also maintain a membership with ISACA.org.
Wow! Shifting a little, can you tell us how your role is just one example of how Berkshire Bank IA functions to ensure that the team does not experience expertise or skills gap deficits and can quickly respond to new and emerging issues?
By having not just the role of IT Auditor but also a department staffed by a team member with requisite technical expertise outside of the specific IA skillset (like accounting and auditing), allows our team to quickly understand and assess potential risks in highly specialized IT areas.
That said, I think the entire team has a very diverse background and expertise in compliance, operations, and finance. The expertise related to quickly developing IT concerns provides depth to our bench strength.
We periodically analyze skills gaps to assess potential knowledge deficits, allowing management to drill down on focus areas to ensure the team receives the continuing education needed for emerging issues.
So, we wanted to get personal. How did you start this role?
I had worked closely with IT Management and IT Audit at a former employer to ensure that organizational policies and procedures were in line with best practices and regulatory guidance. Having a degree in IT and over 15 years of experience in the field helped me step into a specialized internal audit role tied to a critical risk area; it was a logical and relatively smooth transition. Now, as an auditor, understanding the technical aspects of IT initiatives and operational needs of an organization and how everything ties together have helped me add value to the Berkshire Team.
What motivates you to excel and continue moving forward?
I have a “process improvement and efficiencies mindset” that utilizes innovation and technology to improve operations. I always strive to learn something new or figure out how things work, and that keeps me moving forward and knowledgeable in a specialized field to provide value in different auditing areas.
Tell us one thing that people should know about Internal Audit and you?
Working in IA can be challenging but also extremely rewarding to help contribute to process improvements. Utilizing IIA and regulatory guidelines, our team focuses on making sure Berkshire Bank is operating the best it can.
And how about you? What can our readers know about Melissa? Outside of auditing, I spend a lot of time hiking with my dogs and riding a Harley in nice weather. I enjoy traveling and photography. My spouse is a musician, and we spend a lot of time seeing live music in different venues across the country and sometimes even Europe.
Thanks, that is so interesting. Before we go, Melissa can you tell us the best part of your job and why you find auditing so exciting?
I feel that the best part of the job is being able to use my knowledge and experience to help in process improvement and ensure that operationally, Berkshire Bank continues to be better, stronger, faster. And, (laughing) two words typically not associated together are “exciting” and “auditing”! For me though, it is exciting to review process flows and work with such great team members on the various business lines to improve process efficiencies and strengthen the control environment.
Melissa, thank you so much for joining us today to share some insights into the world of internal audit and your role. It was a pleasure.
You can learn more about Internal Audit Awareness Month by clicking the link below, and you can also visit Berkshire Bank at www.berkshirebank.com.
Visit the IIA — https://na.theiia.org/