In many sectors, it is the young and dynamic group between the ages of 30-35 who carry the workload, including in auditing. Auditing as a young professional is a big challenge where only experienced auditors are considered to be capable and effective.
I am an auditor and consultant for quality management systems in her early 30s and have audited almost 500 hotels and performed 1500 audits with different scopes during the last four years. One of the most common concerns I have encountered is that people think I am young and that they could easily mislead me. I firmly believe I have a powerful weapon in my hand. Asking the right questions gives me the strength to perform a robust risk assessment which then helps people shift their perception of me positively.
When curiosity and new ideas matter
Successful auditing skills will indeed come with experience, but I’m afraid I disagree that the most successful auditors are solely the experienced ones. An experience, by its definition, is developing the right level of knowledge and skills. The essential skill for being a good auditor is curiosity and hunger to learn. In other words, a good auditor never stops asking questions, not only as part of auditing but also as part of professional development.
Even in a smooth audit where things are in their right places, there is still a need for verification and analysis. A comprehensive assessment will be generated as a result of professional scepticism and curiosity. According to the research co-authored by Chinese University of Hong Kong researchers Li Chu and Helene H Fung, older adults showed a lower level of trait curiosity than younger adults. Therefore, younger auditors have more chance to perform better by being more sceptical and curious.
There is nothing like “one solution to a problem”. There may be many ways to approach a nonconforming situation. Young minds will be open to new ideas, they have fewer prejudices, and their thinking paths are not framed. This fresh thinking will result in making a well-balanced, and unbiased risk assessment and new ideas will generate different added values.
On the importance of communication skills, agility and flexibility
One of the other essential skills of a successful auditor is communication. Lack of communication will lead to situations where crucial aspects of a potential problem are missed. Considering the workforce is also getting younger in all industries, it is wise to keep a balance in communication by introducing young auditors. Younger adults have a completely different set of communication skills, which will help the young auditors reach the workforce’s younger population with ease and comfort. It is also correct that young individuals may have difficulties to have smooth communication with older individuals due to their perception of “old”.
Auditing is a very demanding profession that requires the right level of agility and flexibility. Time is the most precious asset and to be managed professionally, mainly when you are an auditor. Working long hours is given, and travelling together with being mobile puts an extra level of pressure on the auditors’ shoulders. One of the reasons why auditing is not a lifetime job for many people is that it affects family life. Younger adults may demonstrate more flexibility and agility in shaping their work-life balance. Research states that the new generations ask for more “on the go” type of lives; they are free from the old styles of looking at things. They find themselves a shelter within a chaotic situation and adapt if they see meaning in what they currently do. Their urge to finding a sense of purpose is much stronger than the previous generations.
In conclusion, I believe the most successful auditors are critical thinkers. Being good or bad is not linked solely to ageing. I highly recommend looking for the new generation auditors and seeing their passion, professionalism, dynamic energy, fresh and value-adding knowledge.
By Ayşegül Çelik
March 01, 2021