Monday, December 18, 2017

Good morning distinguished guests, fellow Chief Audit Executives, colleagues in the internal auditing profession, Good morning!


Our theme in this Forum is Navigating Unchartered Frontiers – this phrase sounds really daunting. It evokes the adventure and excitement that of Star Trek.


Now, why am I talking about StarTrek in a conference of Internal Auditors?


Because the adventure that is awaiting Internal Auditors nowadays could be  as exciting and as challenging, even scary, as the adventure of Star Trek.  Although we don’t have to be in outer space, we are now being called upon to step out of our comfort zone, to find our way into unchartered territory, and be brave and courageous


The role of Internal Auditing is evolving, and it’s evolving fast. Just as the Starship Enterprise had its share of challenges to surmount, the Internal Auditor of today is now faced with a daunting and ever-expanding range of diverse issues. Richard Chambers, President of the IIA described them as:


  • Operational risk
  • Strategic decision–making
  • Compliance
  • Technology vulnerabilities
  • Security threats
  • Fraud prevention and detection
  • Environmental risks
  • Disaster preparedness


…the list goes on and on. Even once-unthinkable subjects like Corporate Culture are now subject to audit.”


The questions we ask are even more compelling than the answers that come to us.  More than ever before, the question of being relevant and responsive to the needs of the times is foremost in the minds of our business leaders.  The new frontiers are here more than we probably are prepared for and we need to pay attention and take action while we can.


How comfortable are we to tackle the new challenges? 


For a long, long time, the Internal Auditor has relied upon standard practices and procedures to do his/her job well, and could always turn to professional literature and guidance to do the job effectively.  He/She could also call upon the assistance of more experienced colleagues for time-tested advice.


Although that is still true, technology and the advent of the Internet have changed all of that. Nowadays, we are faced with new challenges, new options, new roads that we’ve never been on before. And they are happening so fast we could barely keep up with the speed of how business is being transformed.  And all of these are happening not only in our own local sphere, but also on a global scale.  Our business reach has become wider and the net is cast into space.


For the newer and less familiar aspects of auditing, such as operational risk

and technological vulnerabilities, we will need to engage our capacities for discernment, creativity, astute analysis, determination and perseverance. As adventurers in the new frontier, we need to be brave and courageous. As we trek into these unchartered territories, we also become change agents.  Our function will change with the times, and we will be called to engage not only our logical brains but also our intuition and our hearts.  We will be transformed not only as business personalities but also as private individuals operating in a very much changed world.


For years, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) has been responsive to the needs of the Internal Auditors in the profession by providing educational and professional guidance. As you all know, the Institute of Internal Auditors’ main mission is to “provide dynamic leadership for the global profession of internal auditing.”  Today, in this Forum, we have brought together CAEs from countries in the Asia-Pacific region to talk about the new frontiers in the practice, share information and experiences, network with peers, understand industry best practices, and take their career to the next level.


  • Business author James L. Hayes said: “When a mature and able manager feels bored, he should seriously consider changing jobs, changing companies—or simply retiring. It is not fair to anyone for half a leader to hold a full-time leadership job.” He went on to say: “effective managers live in the present and concentrate on the future.”


Indeed the role of Chief Audit Executive as business leader has become more crucial and even more important in the business environment today.


Today, business technology has revolutionized the way companies conduct business. We can’t imagine how technology will further change the way we conduct business.  How comfortable are we to tackle these new challenges? How do we get out of our comfort zone in order to respond to the needs of the times?


In our Forum today, we will be talking about the various aspects of the new frontier for which we are charting a course. But I would like to share my personal take on these challenges.  I’d like to focus on just three:


The first is: INVEST IN EXCELLENCE; INVEST IN YOURSELF.  This is the same message of The IIA Chairman, Mr. Larry Harrington. Get as much training as you can.  Read and network with colleagues.  Again, invest in yourself.  And remember, the road is not paved smoothly.  But we can prepare for the road ahead and know that we will prevail. The trick is to keep doing what we need to do. 


Second:  My mantra is: “When the going is tough, find good allies.”  There is strength in numbers. Quoting the 2015 CBOK report on the Regional Reflections: Asia & Pacific,  “You (the CAE) cannot do it on your own, so approach the board, the audit committee, or the minister (if you are working in the public sector) with the issue you are going to raise.  With such a network of allies, it is easier to get your points across to the CEO.


And lastly, “BE COURAGEOUS.” It’s time to be the hero in our journey.


I love what Napoleon Hill said: “When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”  This is the essence of courage.


I bid you to start the Forum with these pearls of wisdom.  Stay present during the conference and enjoy the adventure!



2016 President

Asian Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditors (ACIIA)