Jean-Pierre Rossouw: Being Certified Gives You a Distinct Advantage
Internal Audit Executive
Swellendam, Western Cape, South Africa
1. What prompted you to become certified?
I knew early on in my career that I wanted to be professionally recognized in the internal audit profession. Being certified gives you a distinct advantage. You are respected among colleagues and external stakeholders. Becoming certified also deepens your knowledge and skills with regards to practicing internal auditing in a professional environment.
Also, considering that internal audit is still fairly new in the local government sphere, I knew that being certified would add credibility to my work. In turn, this gave me “a seat at the table” related to management decision making structures within the organization.
2. What IIA certification(s) do you hold, and why did you choose to pursue it (them)? Do you plan to pursue other IIA certifications, and if so, which ones and why?
I hold the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) designations. The CIA is the premier designation for internal auditors and was therefore my main objective whilst I was still an internal audit student. I also wanted to demonstrate my commitment to practicing in accordance with the International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) by earning the CIA and CGAP designations. These certifications test your knowledge regarding the IPPF and whether you’re able to apply that knowledge in a working environment.
I am also planning to pursue the Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) because risk management assurance is such an integral part of internal auditing. One needs to be able to respond adequately and add real value through assessing the effectiveness of risk management processes.
3. How does having an IIA certification(s) set you apart from your non-certified peers?
Holding IIA certifications gives you a distinct advantage over your non-certified peers because it proves that you have an in-depth understanding of the key elements of the internal audit profession. It also helps with your credibility when asked for an opinion or input on matters.
4. How has your IIA certification(s) helped your career?
My IIA certifications have elevated my career to the next level, as employers recognize the importance of adequately qualified professionals, especially in the audit fields. The certifications provide a “safety net” that I know what I’m doing and what I’m talking about. Peers respect and value your opinion and junior staff look up to you as a mentor whose judgment they can trust. I am currently an internal audit executive, and I believe that my IIA certifications have allowed me to make a positive impact in my current organization, which had no internal audit unit in place prior to me taking my position.
My certifications also assisted me in demonstrating exponential growth in the internal audit profession. I was employed in 2009 as internal audit intern and developed my skills to a level capable of fulfilling an audit executive position is less than a decade. My IIA certifications definitely assisted in this respect and in my career journey in general.
5. Has earning the IIA certification(s) enhanced your skill level?
Definitely! The preparation process for the exams is so rigorous that one cannot just study the letter of the Standards, but must also understand the spirit and implementation of the Standards. Various key topics are covered, which enhanced my skill level. I particularly enjoyed the new Part 3 of the CIA exam, as it covers things that one does not normally deal with in their daily tasks as an internal auditor.
6. What advice do you have for others who are considering obtaining an IIA certification?
The journey towards obtaining your IIA certification is tough in terms of juggling work challenges, social/ family life, and studying. However, it is well worth the effort in the end. Your key to succeeding will be proper exam preparation through effective time management, as well as obtaining practical experience in an audit environment (one that strives to live by the IPPF on a daily basis). It will make the exam process much easier if you already have some professional audit experience.
7. How does career planning and development play a part in your growth?
Continuous studies and learning play a key role in career planning and development for growth. The CPE requirements are also a key driver to my development as a professional. I continuously conduct research on best practice elements.
8. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Everything takes time. Be patient and the right opportunities will present themselves. When I was just starting in the profession, I would often replay this quote in mind to motivate me, “When you’re young… Work to LEARN, not to EARN.” Also, be open to constructive criticism. It might just help you to improve even more.
Jean-Pierre Rossouw is a Certified Internal Auditor® (CIA®) and Certified Government Auditing Professional® (CGAP®). He has nearly a decade of internal audit experience, more than a third of which has been in a management/leadership position. His qualifications include a four-year B Tech, internal auditing degree (cum laude), certificate in public sector risk management, and certificate in forensic and investigative auditing. He is also currently in the process of completing his master’s degree in internal auditing.
His professional certifications, together with his specialized knowledge and experience of audit processes and procedures, allow him to serve as a key advisor to the audit committee and executive management with regards to internal audit, risk management, and good governance.
Rossouw is currently the internal audit executive for Swellendam Municipality, for which he established the internal audit and risk management functions. He was named “2016 Young Internal Auditor of the Year” by The Institute of Internal Auditors–South Africa (IIASA).
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About the CIA
As the only globally recognized certification for internal auditors and The IIA’s flagship credential for more than 40 years, the CIA sets the standard for excellence in the profession. Learn more.