#WorkWeDo — Testing Controls and Taking Off

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Protiviti perspective provided by Stephanie, New York Senior Consultant

Over the next few weeks, we are highlighting examples of the work we do here at Protiviti.  These stories showcase the variety of projects that our people team together on to deliver meaningful results for our clients — and also to learn something of value in the process.

Next up in our #WorkWeDo series, Erin, a Consultant in Dallas, shares how her work has helped a client in the airline industry to manage its compliance efforts, and at the same time enabled her own career to take off.

Protiviti Career:  What was the situation?

Erin:  “Protiviti has been the outsourced Internal Audit department for a large airline client for over a decade. As such, we are responsible for performing a number of project workstreams including Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance.”

PC:  What was our team tasked with doing?

Erin:  “Each year, we work with the business to test SOX controls to ensure they are operating effectively.”

PC:  What actions did we take as part of this work?

Erin:  “Working as the client’s internal audit function, Protiviti performs all IT SOX compliance work. We are responsible for testing all IT General Controls and Interface Controls and creating workpapers and test sheets.”

PC:  What was the result?

Erin:  “By testing the client’s SOX controls and ensuring they are compliant, we are able to provide management with information regarding the accuracy of their financial reports to help prevent fraud.

For me personally, as a result of this work, I have established an understanding of the airline industry and the IT controls that keep our client’s financial reports accurate. I have been able to develop strong, professional relationships and have contributed more than I could have imagined only a year out of college.”

Thanks for the insights, Erin!  Stay tuned for more glimpses into real client engagements that articulate the #WorkWeDo in the weeks ahead!

#WorkWeDo — Creating Global Efficiencies

Colourful evening at Gardens by the Bay

Protiviti perspective provided by Krishnan, Sydney Associate Director

Over the next few weeks, we will highlight examples of the work we do here at Protiviti.  These stories showcase the variety of projects that our people team together on to deliver meaningful results for our clients — and also to learn something of value in the process.

First up in our #WorkWeDo series, David, a Consultant in Chicago, shares a story about creating efficiencies on a global scale.

Protiviti Career:  What was the situation?

David:  “A fortune 500 global distribution company struggled with weak control over their finance and accounting teams in different countries. They had areas of frustratingly inefficient processes, unclear responsibilities, few policies in place (and even fewer followed), and generally had difficulty collaborating.”

PC:  What was our team tasked with doing?

David:  “The company wanted our help to identify how processes are currently performed, understand what the weakest areas were, and develop a plan to smoothly transition towards an improved organization. To do this, we were to create process maps showing what they do and how it could improve. We were also were to create procedure and training documents so that new job responsibilities would be clearly communicated and followed.”

PC:  What actions did we take as part of this work?

David:  “We first held workshops to discuss what each team does, focusing on what is most painful and frustrating for them. With that information we drew the process maps and detailed areas that could productively change. To support the implementation and future adherence, we then wrote supporting training/procedure documents for their processes. Then, after doing this for one country, we repeated these steps in other countries in the region, using the first one as a baseline.”

PC:  What was the result?

David:  “The client saw a more streamlined and smoothly operating organization. Since we were aligning the processes in different offices in the same region, it started to become much easier for them to all communicate and collaborate. The client’s headquarters in the U.S. also had a better understanding of the foreign region’s work, and was better prepared to support them.

Additionally, this project exposed our team to what multinational collaboration looks like. The goal was not to bring 100% standardization between different countries, but to allow for management to have an easier time controlling and supporting the teams across the globe.”

Thanks for the insights, David, and great job team!  Stay tuned for more glimpses into real client engagements that articulate the #WorkWeDo in the weeks ahead!

Congratulations to an Emerging Leader!

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Congratulations to Canberra’s Senior Manager Alissa Irgang, named to Internal Auditor magazine’s Emerging Leaders list! Alissa earned a spot on this prestigious ‘Who’s Who’ of up-and-coming internal audit professionals who are “ambitious, talented practitioners steeped in the profession, poised to take on new challenges, and ready to lead.”

Alissa leads Internal Audit for Protiviti Canberra and runs the office’s internal audit training program. She has successfully led innovative audit approaches at over thirty companies and government departments. Alissa was also the Australia lead in Protiviti’s first global Project Management Office for a major project, reporting directly to the client executive in the U.S. In addition, her thought leadership on corporate governance has been published in the Company and Securities Law Journal.

She is chair of the IIA Australia’s ACT Chapter Council, where she created and launched the first IIA mentoring program in Australia. Additionally, she is vice chair of the Australia National University Young Alumni Council where she regularly organizes networking and speed-mentoring sessions for students and young professionals, and has presented at multiple career development events for students.

As Alissa looks to the future of internal audit, she notes that technology is rapidly pushing the industry forward. “Everything is changing, and the future is already here,” she says. “To remain relevant, we need to evolve with it.”

Congratulations, Alissa!

#ProtivitiWomenInFSI – Meet Natalie

Tomorrow is American Banker’s 15th annual “The Most Powerful Women in Banking” awards dinner.  We have been counting down the days to this event by spotlighting various #ProtivitiWomenInFSI. This series will feature a variety of women, from diverse backgrounds and career perspectives. While their stories are all unique, the one thing they have in common is that they work closely with Protiviti’s financial services clients. Our final spotlight in the series is Natalie!

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Natalie is a Manager in our Risk and Compliance solution in London.

  • What was your path to Protiviti? “I started as a senior consultant in early 2015. Prior to joining Protiviti, I worked with Robert Half as a contractor on a project related to anti-money laundering compliance (in Fort Lauderdale, FL) which was in fact managed by a Protiviti team! Before contracting, I was an AML Compliance Analyst at Citibank and a Lead Customer Service Representative for Fifth Third Bank.”
  • What is one of your most memorable FSI projects? “One of my most memorable FSI projects was for a client based out of Los Angeles, California. We were working on an anti-money laundering (AML) investigations review and also developed an AML training program for our consultants and seniors on the project. The engagement lasted about 6 months and I traveled to our offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Charlotte. I worked closely with every level, from consultants to managing directors, and learned the difficulties of managing large scale projects, keeping open communication, and understanding each audience has a different perspective.”
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced working in the financial services industry? “I think the biggest challenge I have faced working in the financial services industry is that some clients are already in very tough situations with regulators. Sometimes they think that just doing what the regulator says will clear up their problems, but in reality, regulators may only hone in on certain pieces of the issue. When we go to help clients, it’s challenging (and rewarding) to help them see the bigger picture. Winning work is part of the reward, but I love to see a client’s ‘aha!’ moment.”
  • What advice would you give to both current and future women in banking to face the future with confidence? “Ask the right questions, go to conferences, attend webinars, contribute to whitepapers, and make a true effort to be present when people expect you to be. Your attitude towards opportunities and experiences where you are challenged will make all the difference.”
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Natalie is pictured above hiking 3km up to the Reykjadalur springs in Iceland.

 

#ProtivitiWomenInFSI – Meet Catherine

As we count down the days until American Banker’s 15th annual “The Most Powerful Women in Banking” awards dinner, we also continue to spotlight different #ProtivitiWomenInFSI. This series will feature a variety of women with diverse backgrounds and career perspectives. While their stories are all unique, the one thing they have in common is that they work closely with Protiviti’s financial services clients. Next up in the series is Catherine!

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Catherine is an Associate Director in our Internal Audit Financial Advisory solution in Atlanta

  • What was your path to Protiviti? “I started my career in public accounting working for KPMG in Buffalo, NY.  My clients were primarily financial institutions in the Western New York area.  After 5 years, I decided to shift gears a bit and join M&T Bank’s internal audit department. As the Internal Audit Manager, I audited accounting policy and corporate reporting, commercial credit risk management, anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance.  After 5 years, my husband and I moved to Houston, TX for his medical residency.  I first learned about Protiviti by speaking to a colleague from the bank.  He had a great experience and recommended it to me, so I joined Protiviti office in 2014.  I can’t believe it has been over three years!”
  • What is one of your most memorable FSI projects? “My most memorable Financial Services Industry project was an external quality assessment (EQA) for a large insurance company. Protiviti had been chosen as the firm to execute this project just prior to the internal audit department getting a new Chief Audit Executive.  Our first kick-off meeting for the project included the new CAE, and he told us that if the decision was up to him, Protiviti wouldn’t have been his first choice. He felt we were stronger in risk management and compliance than internal audit.  I knew from that day on, that we would have to work extra hard to change the CAE’s impression of Protiviti.  We spent a lot of time during the project building and nurturing our relationship with the CAE and his direct reports.  We wanted to make sure the final report we delivered was exactly what they were looking for. In addition to the standard EQA report we issue to assess the company’s compliance with IIA standards, we also issued a 60-page report filled with commentary on internal audit’s current practices in comparison to leading practices of other large financial institutions.  The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, especially from the CAE.  They were surprised at how much we learned about their internal audit shop in just a few short weeks.  The CAE invited us to a dinner with his direct reports shortly thereafter.  At the dinner, the CAE presented each member of our team an award of excellence.  We truly went above and beyond in meeting the client’s needs and it was incredibly rewarding.”
  • What excites you the most about your work in the financial services industry? “What excites me the most is the variety of work we do. While I was at KPMG, I was able to audit different financial institutions, but the financial statement work was generally the same.  Similar situation at M&T.  I was able to do different internal audits across the bank, but the internal audit work was generally the same.  At Protiviti every project is different.  Since joining Protiviti, I led a first year SOX compliance project at a small community bank, designed an internal audit policy and procedure manual for a small community bank, assisted in designing the internal audit risk assessment methodology and documenting related policies, procedures and templates for a large consumer credit financial institution, performed several mortgage default servicing audits for a top 10 U.S. bank, led the execution of several anti-money laundering compliance audits at mid-size and large financial institutions, performed several external quality assessments of several large financial institutions, and the list goes on.  Currently, I am leveraging my project management skills to help manage the portfolio of strategic initiatives for the internal audit professional practices group of a global bank.  I truly enjoy the variety and learn so much on each project that I can use on subsequent projects and also in discussions with new clients.”
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced working in the financial services industry? “The biggest challenge I have faced by far is personal, and that is becoming a new mom.  My beautiful baby girl Ellie was born in August 2016.  Like most new moms, it was very difficult for me for the first few months adapting to a life where I had to juggle both a career and motherhood.  Before having Ellie, I was used to traveling quite a bit to the financial services hub cities – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.  Given my husband’s busy residency, my ability to travel is restricted.  Luckily, Protiviti has a very supportive work environment for new moms.  The management team, and the FSI team more broadly, helped me continue to build my network locally in order to get more local work and also put me on projects where I could work on remotely.  Protiviti is truly a great place to work.  Protiviti’s culture is nurturing and one where they want to see everyone succeed in their careers and their life in general.”
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Pictured above is Catherine with husband Daniel, and daughter, Ellie

Shining the Spotlight on #ProtivitiAdvisors

As we wrap up Advisor Month, we want to recap some of the advice that has been shared throughout the month.

Steven Lafrance

 

 

Los Angeles Managing Director Scott gave this advice to fellow Managing Director Steven, “We are a “team”.  Which on the surface is pretty basic, but what it really means is that you do not have to face all of the challenges alone.  We are in this together.”

 

Jillian

 

 

 

Senior Specialist Jillian shared a simple but profound nugget:  “Work hard, and be nice to people.”

 

 

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Manager Lindsay’s advisor, Managing Director Steve, urged her to be her own advocate, saying “At Protiviti, we have the opportunity to participate in an array of engagements.  From these experiences, we are constantly learning and gaining insight into what drives us professionally and personally.  By being your own advocate and expressing your interests, you have the ability to drive your career in the direction that allows you to be successful and fulfilled.”

 

 

Miranda and Hudson

Meet Miranda, a Specialist in Human Resources in our Metro Washington, DC office

Last (but certainly not least!) in our #ProtivitiAdvisors series is Miranda.  Miranda is a Human Resources Specialist in our Metro DC office.  She excels at a variety of critical HR roles, including but not limited to: performance management; training new members of our HR team; and serving as the leave concierge for employees who take leaves of absence, including parental leave.  Pictured above with her son, Hudson, Miranda is also the local office champion for Protiviti’s Parents’ Network.

How does Miranda successfully bring her career to life at Protiviti?  To a great extent, she credits her advisor Elizabeth.  “Elizabeth is my advisor/mentor/boss lady/friend/spirit animal and I could write a book on all the real world advice she’s given me over the years – both professionally and personally,” shares Miranda.  When pushed to narrow down all this wisdom to the most relevant advice Elizabeth has provided recently, Miranda reveals this gem:

At the end of the day, what we do is about helping and knowing our people, and that includes helping and knowing ourselves.  It is important to take care of yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.”

And with that, we conclude this round of spotlights on #ProtivitiAdvisors in honor of Advisor Month.  We thank all of the individuals whose stories were highlighted in this series, as well as the thousands of other advisors not featured here who shine every day in our workforce.

Protiviti’s great cultural strength is the way that our people build relationships with one another that empower them to be their best.  The Advisor Program is a reflection of this, and we are so happy to have spent some time sharing it with this audience over the last month!  We hope you now see that being a strong career advisor is truly #LivingProtiviti.

#ProtivitiWomenInFSI – Meet Shelly

As we count down the days until American Banker’s 15th annual “The Most Powerful Women in Banking” awards dinner, we also continue to spotlight different #ProtivitiWomenInFSI. This series will feature a variety of women, from diverse backgrounds and career perspectives. While their stories are all unique, the one thing they have in common is that they work closely with Protiviti’s financial services clients. Next up in the series is Shelly!

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Shelly is a Senior Manager in our Risk and Compliance solution in Sydney.

  • What was your path to Protiviti? “I started with Protiviti as an intern in 2008. After my internship, I worked on a part time basis while I completed by MBA at the University of Central Florida. After finishing my MBA, I joined on a full time basis and haven’t looked back since!”
  • What excites you the most about your work in the financial services industry? “The amount of change in the industry. Given the pace of regulation and a very innovative product market, change is inevitable and happening at a quicker pace every day. With change comes opportunity from the consulting perspective because of the type of work we do but also from a personal perspective through constant learning and growth.”
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced working in the financial services industry? “The amount of change in the industry. While this excites me the most, it is also one of the most challenging parts of our jobs. Outside of keeping up with all the regulatory changes, implementing change requires changing the hearts and minds of the people within an organization. This can be challenging in large organizations due to the sheer scale and in smaller organizations where legacy systems and process exist.”
  • What advice would you give to both current and future women in financial services to face the future with confidence? “Don’t apologize for being yourself. As in don’t apologize for having an opinion or speaking up on a particular issue. Be bold, be meaningful and own it.”
Shelly_Kotor Bay

Pictured above, Shelly is in Kotor Bay, Montenegro. She said “the infamous road has 25 hairpin turns and is noted as one of the most dangerous roads in the world”.