Case study: Cargotec

Stephen Foster, Senior Vice President Audit & Assurance

Stephen has been in his current role at Cargotec for five and a half years, over which period he has transformed the role of audit and introduced the ethics and compliance function. Prior to taking this position, and over a period of 20 plus years he held a spectrum of senior finance roles in various industries and companies. 

Stephen gained his CMIIA chartered by experience designation in 2016.


Q&A

Why did you decided to become a Chartered Internal Auditor?

I think it's an important statement to make both internally and externally, it signifies our commitment to professionalism, continuous improvement and personal development.

It also gives a positive message to the board, the executives and the audit and assurance team, and undoubtedly helps engender confidence across all our stakeholders. 

Finally, it was a personal challenge to myself - I wanted to test myself and our progress against the standards and expectations of the professional body.

How did you find the chartered by experience process?

The process was extremely rewarding and beneficial both to myself and my company. It forces reflection and critical self-awareness in terms of what you have done and achieved. It helped me revise some priorities going forward and explore in retrospect what we could have done better.

The process was far more relevant than I had expected in the sense that it is primarily centered around the practical application and interpretation of the Institute's philosophies and standards, rather than a simple self-assessment check list.

I have the sense that there is a genuine interest and high value placed on how you as an individual are using the principles and framework to add value and influence your business for the better.

What parts of the application process were the most challenging?

The most challenging aspect was also the most constructive. The process of mapping how you and your team execute the various audit processes in a way that not just meets the standards but also achieves the desired outcome. This covers everything from planning and scoping individual audits all the way through to ARC reporting, one to one meetings with key stakeholders and the assurance planning cycle.

There were times that I was pleasantly surprised by how well we are doing in many of these aspects, but also points where I had to be brutally honest with myself and towards the assessors. However, as I often remind myself, we are seeking progress not perfection.

What have you gained by becoming a Chartered Internal Auditor?

Certainly an enhanced sense of professional confidence and the reassurance that both myself and the team are on the right track. It has been acknowledged by the CEO and ARC, who commented that they see it also as a benefit for the company overall.

How has your business benefited?

Directly we have highlighted some areas where we can improve our processes and enhance our interaction with value to management and auditees. Indirectly, the sense that we are on the right path and that aspects of what we do are quite advanced will build confidence across the whole team, which in turn improves how we interact with the business.

Would you recommend this route, and if so, why?

Absolutely. My personal view is that the most powerful audit functions are built on a fusion of strong business insight and robust professional standards and processes. Adding this qualification and the reflection and knowledge that comes from the process can only enhance the effectiveness and organisational presence of an experienced head of audit.

What do you believe makes a good internal auditor?

I think the baseline is a high level of professionalism, integrity, and risk awareness. What elevates a good auditor to the level of a great auditor is the ability to provide insight, solve problems and ultimately the ability to communicate in a way that allows people to understand clearly and quickly the issue or opportunity at hand, and persuade them to make a positive change.