Following on from Maddie’s blog on Wednesday giving a whirlwind tour of the first half of 2015, this blog picks up from July to cover the second!
July saw a bit of a break from external audit for me, with our team having won our first ever internal audit assignment. It was unchartered territory for us all in the team, so with the support of our colleagues in BRS (Business Risk Services, who are experts in the field), we learned a lot rather quickly about the different challenges and rewards of internal audit. Although internal and external audit sound like they should be largely similar, the skills you use and the day to day work is rather different. I enjoy change and trying new things so it was a good insight into what life as an internal auditor would be like. I was also lucky enough to be involved in facilitating some workshops, where we were crowdsourcing our business plan from people all across the firm. More opportunity to practice my facilitating, a chance to meet new people who I facilitated with, and I heard lots of exciting ideas for how our firm could move forwards and achieve our vision. This type of thing always reminds me about the bigger picture as to why we come in every day and work as hard as we do. I find it helps motivate me in my day job and also gets me thinking about what my plans are, and what part I would like to play in the firm’s future.
From working with some of the more senior people in the firm in shared enterprise, to our brand new interns – July is also the month where the firm welcomes its summer interns each year, and for me and Spilling the Beans this means the Spilling the Beans Intern Takeover 2015. A team of interns sent us video interviews telling us about their motivations for joining the takeover, and reviewing them made me really excited about the brilliant people we had joining and what they might make of their time in control of our social media channels. We were not disappointed. Videos with CEO Sacha Romanovitch, countless blogs and some excellent competitions were some of the highlights of their takeover, and I gained so much from supporting them again, and this year also mentoring Sam to lead the takeover so he can do it on his own next year. It is really rewarding to see things that you have been involved in continue to thrive after you hand it over – something which was fairly new to me, as a trainee you tend to be doing lots of things for the first time! I also learned that I have not missed my life’s calling in a career in football, at the annual tournament in Leeds…
Whilst July brought a relative break from external audit, August brought it back in full force. Our local government busy season saw me on client site and working hard towards getting that audit completed for the deadline at the end of September.
In amongst that, I spent some time with our Grants Soft Grouping team helping them to construct a business plan by applying a tool I had learned in the shared enterprise workshops. This was a great couple of days getting the chance to help chair and facilitate a couple of days on my own. It was also a good chance to practice being the ‘outsider’ in the situation. I know very little about Grants so could ask all those really obvious questions, which sometimes contributed to people having some great ideas.
Most notable in August for me, was an opportunity to apply the research I mentioned I had started earlier in the year about the different teams within the firm. Having looked at Business Consulting, I had decided I really liked the look of how they operated as a team, the work they did every day, and their culture. This meant I was really excited and nervous when I heard they would be holding an internal assessment center for people who were interested in joining them. It was a pretty taxing day – a 2 hour case study and a speed dating style interview session being the bits that stand out most in my mind! We also got a chance to meet a few members of the team though, and chat to some of the execs who are working there now about what it’s like. I was lucky enough to get a call the next day to say I had managed to secure a place in their team for when I qualify. Unbelievably exciting and something to keep me focused on how I am contributing to the firm and not just my team between now and then.
Also – Spilling the Beans had its fifth birthday this month so we had a party with all the alumni of the team!
September had more of the same local government busy season work as I was doing in August. Another time of the year where we get really stuck into the detailed testing and audit work required to complete an audit. As a team we are conscious of the change in deadline looming in the next couple of years, and this is something we were also trying to help our clients prepare for during this audit.
Knowing I was going to have a chance to experience another part of the business next year really motivated me to get the most from my time in audit, but it also inspired me to get involved with the UK Internal Mobility Project. As a team we are attempting to tackle the perception of people moving around the firm as a negative thing; by breaking down the barriers to this process to show how much it can improve people’s enjoyment and performance in their roles within the firm. Having just had experience of the process myself, I was determined to help make sure it was more streamlined and accessible for those looking to do the same thing I had just done. Once again, I met more people who I wouldn’t have had I not become involved, and learned a lot from those people around me. I’m still learning from them and working with them, and it adds another interesting angle to how I fill my time in work.
The end of a year for a PSA trainee means one thing – exams. So my October was filled mostly with college and mock exams. We work so hard during this time to try and lay good foundations for revision in November…
One thing I did manage to fit around college in October was presenting a session on Devolution at the CIPFA South East Annual conference. I knew relatively little about the topic before preparing for this session, but the Local Government Advisory team have a piece of thought leadership on devolution so I could study up and present the session they had prepared for that. Most of the other presenters at the conference were really senior in their fields, and it was noted that we had given the responsibility to trainees– something which seems to now be embedded
in the culture of our team.
The month of revision. As much fun as it is, I won’t bore you with the details of my procrastination tactics…
The month started with exams, which were terrifying as always for a crammer like me.
We then got some early planning done for some of the audits I am working on this year, and I had some handover meetings to pass on the audits I had In-charged this year as I won’t be with the team to finish them next year. This was the first thing that made it real that I would be joining a new team next year.
I also went to Bradenham for the last audit workshop that you need to do in your training contract – Mastering Audit Completion. It’s a three day workshop and this time included a festive trip to Yates (the local bar frequented by most people who visit Bradenham). It’s a more reflective workshop than most of the others, and was a nice way to give us some new tips and ideas going into our planning in the new year.
December cannot pass without mention of the London Christmas Party. It was in Finsbury Square this year and an amazing night – a fab celebration of a year which for me has included more variety than I had imagined in January.
I was really busy during parts of the year, and I learned a lot in those times, but probably the thing which I have learned the most from the year is that it pays to get involved in things outside of my day job.
Being someone who values variety and change, I enjoyed the year so much more for all of the extra things in my calendar, and would encourage everyone else to try and fill their diary with variety too.