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The Institute of Internal Auditors North AmericaBreadcrumb SeparatorNewsBreadcrumb SeparatorMeet Sammi Lee CIA, CCSA, CAMS

Sammi LeeCertification Spotlight

Sau Man Lee (Sammi) CIA, CCSA, CAMS
Compliance Consultant, Wells Fargo Bank

1. What prompted you to become certified?

Having professional designations is a symbol of subject matter expertise. It earns credibility and respect among peers and business partners. Also, I believe it sets me apart from other applicants when job searching.

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 Certification in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA). I started as an entry level internal auditor at a national financial institution in 2005 after graduating from college and moved to operational risk management to perform risk assessments and control evaluation for the organization’s business groups. The risk assessment and control evaluation elements of my role is why I chose to pursue the CCSA with -encouragement from my manager. As my career evolved, I was performing audits within a government agency. Because I was back in auditing and realizing the CIA is the flagship certification for internal auditors, I decided to pursue study and take the CIA exams.

3. How does having an IIA certification(s) set you apart from your non-certified peers?

I earn credibility and respect among my peers and business partners; however, they now have higher expectations of me. Being branded as a subject matter expert, I become the “go-to” person for advice from my peers as well as my business partners.

4. How has your IIA certification(s) helped your career?

Having both certifications provides me additional job opportunities and helps me to climb the corporate ladder.

5. Has earning the IIA certification(s) enhanced your skill level?

Yes. While I have worked in the audit and risk management for some time, it does not mean I know everything in this field. No one can really say they know everything because the regulatory landscape has evolved rapidly in the last few decades. Studying for the IIA certification exams helped broaden my knowledge and skills in areas in which I do not have a lot of exposure in my day-to-day work.

6. What advice do you have for others who are considering obtaining an IIA certification?

Try not to rush yourself to obtain the certification right after college. Once you have more experience in the industry, the study materials will come in handy for exams.

7. How does career planning and development play a part in your growth?

Career planning and development play an important role in my growth. Everything keeps changing, so I need to keep learning new things every day. That’s how I grow myself and expand my skill set.

8. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

“Change is the only constant in this industry. If you do not like it, you better leave this field.” When I first heard this advice, I felt that it sounded very harsh. However, it is true and it helps me when I face organizational structure changes, business/audit process changes, regulatory requirement changes, etc.


Sammi Lee is currently a compliance consultant in Wells Fargo Bank and has more than 10 years internal/external audit, risk management, and compliance experience. Throughout her career, Sammi has held various audit/risk management/compliance positions in financial institutions, public accounting firms, as well as government agencies. Sammi holds a Bachelors of Art degree with major in Business Economics and minor in Accounting from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In addition to her CIA and CCSA, Sammi is also a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS).