Five minutes with...Merisha Stevenson

Written by International Compliance Association on Tuesday September 6, 2022

Merisha Stevenson, Head of Quality, Risk and Audit, ICA

We caught up with Merisha Stevenson, Head of Quality, Risk and Audit, ICA, to find out what makes her tick and why becoming an auditor is a more attractive, rewarding career path than you might think.

What does a typical day in the life of an auditor look like?

An auditor’s typical day can be quite varied.

Prior to it actually taking place, it's necessary to plan the audit, including allocating time to look at various areas of conformity.

The day can involve travel – something great for those who like to get out and about – but since the pandemic, there has come the new flexibility of working from home, too. Auditors also get to meet and talk to new and interesting people regularly throughout organisations; this is invaluable to those of us who are insatiably curious!

One of an auditor’s key functions is to help a business understand what they are doing right. We also identify gaps in areas which could create risks to the business operation and so auditors provide firms with a huge amount of value.

It is often the case that 4 or 5 hours will be allocated to reviewing documentation and interviewing individuals as part of the audit; a further hour or two is then allocated daily to writing up and sharing findings.

What are the top reasons to become an auditor? What made you go into this field?

  • Work-life balance; this is crucial, especially in these times of flexible working arrangements
  • Lucrative renumeration – never something to turn your nose up at!
  • Adds demonstrable value to the business, giving you a sense of drive and purpose
  • Varied and interesting role – no two days are the same. Those employees that cherish meaning and purpose in their role will find being an auditor a rewarding career
  • Travel opportunities – not many careers offer the opportunity to get away from the desk
  • Mentally stimulating and challenging
  • Strong job security; a boon given the uncertainty surrounding the economy and the cost-of-living crisis

What does demand look like currently for lead auditors?

The industry is growing quickly, and so demand for ISO auditors is increasing. The ISO industry is expected to grow to being worth $3 billion as global regulation tightens.

What motivates you to do the work you do?

One of the key drivers for me to be an auditor is that the role is solution-focused. Being in this role allows me to add value to the business, improving business processes and ways of working. I also feel like I can make a real a difference both in my job as well as in society. Being an auditor is mentally stimulating – never boring. No two days are the same. The role also offers good career progression, which is another reason why you might want to consider pursuing it.

What keeps you up at night?

One of the things that keeps me up at night is misconceptions about the role of an auditor. An auditor is often being seen as an enemy rather than a critical friend within a business and I would like to change that.

What are the benefits of gaining a professional auditor qualification?

Gaining a professional auditor qualification will allow you to demonstrate commitment to professional development. It will formalise your knowledge and skills and serve as evidence of the skills you’ve acquired. It will also allow you to meet like-minded colleagues, share best practice and network with one another.

Why should companies invest in auditor training?

The benefits of investing in auditor training are numerous. On the one hand, upskilling or training your employees to become professional auditors will allow you to manage and mitigate risk at your firm more successfully. On the other, you would be able to meet regulatory requirement/s and save thousands on having to engage with external consultants. Investing in your employees now will also pay off in the long term. Finally, it will promote a culture of continuous improvement within the business and inspire others.

Enrolment is open for the next ICA Internal Auditor for Compliance Management Systems course on 22-23 February and 27-28 April.

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