Julia Rudrum is the deputy director at South Coast Audit (SCA). SCA is a not-for-profit shared services consortium providing internal audit and counter fraud services, primarily to 27 NHS organisations across the south of England. It has a strong reputation for delivering a quality and cost-effective service, evidenced by over twenty years of operation, a growing client base and active involvement in the NHS.
Working for an approved employer – professional development
SCA has been an Investor in People (IIP) for twelve years and under an agreement between IIP and ACCA, organisations holding the IIP standard are also recognised under ACCA’s Approved Employer for professional development scheme as long as they complete a simple application with ACCA.
This means that SCA meets ACCA’s benchmarks of support for learning and development for its members. Because SCA is an Approved Employer, Julia doesn’t have to track her CPD through the unit route and simply has to make an annual return to ACCA confirming her employer.
Julia says, “I already keep track of my learning and development on my personal development plan, so not having to record my CPD for ACCA as well makes life simpler. However, following the Approved Employer route for CPD doesn’t change my approach to updating and developing my skills and knowledge.
After all, I’m not doing it to simply meet a requirement, I’m doing it because I need to ensure my skills and knowledge enable me to perform my role effectively and drive continuous improvements at SCA.”
Enhancing audit methodology – risk based auditing
There are a few key areas to Julia’s role. She explains. “I lead a team of heads of internal audit and ensure effective delivery of internal audit services. It is a constant challenge to understand the key issues in the field, so to ensure I retain and develop my knowledge I still lead on one of our clients accounts.” Julia also deputises for the managing director.
“Each year brings a different focus, all with the aim of improving our audit methodology and ensuring we are providing a competitive and efficient service to our clients. This year I led a project to research risk-based thinking in audit methodology. Our small project team of four auditors started off by researching current thinking.
I often start with an internet search using Google. The Institute of Internal Auditors is a good source of information on best practice in internal audit and in their magazine they’ve published recent guidance on risk-based auditing. We also referred to the NHS internal audit standards 2002 to consider how to make it practical for the NHS market.
One of the most important aspects of the project was to develop a methodology that would be useable for staff and beneficial for clients. Knowing the market for our services was central to this.” The next steps for the team were to produce a manual for staff introducing the new methodology and develop a programme of training for an annual internal audit away day.
Facilitating training – improving soft skills
Each year SCA hold an internal audit conference for staff. This June one of the aims of the conference was to train staff on the new risk-based methodology. “Facilitating training and presenting isn’t a natural skill of mine.” Julia explains. “I certainly wasn’t comfortable with it initially, but it is a skill I have developed and improved during my career. I’ve learnt a lot, and still do, from our managing director, who has a great ability to make things relevant and interesting – really bringing a presentation to life.”
Sharing knowledge and experience
SCA also recognises coaching as valuable tool in developing our staff’s knowledge and skills, particularly about the organisation and its clients. In fact, as well as a number of informal coaching arrangements that SCA encourage, some of the heads of internal audit have coaching with Julia and the managing director identified in their personal development plans. “We both have a lot of experience – I’ve been with the SCA for 22 years – and working for the SCA is very different from working in other areas of the NHS or in the private sector although in many ways we perform more like a private sector organisation.”
Julia continues, “We set aside dedicated time for coaching; separate to performance appraisal meetings. Listening skills are really important in being a coach, and although it can be difficult balancing the challenges of coaching someone and being their line manager, my style of management is supportive and non-confrontational so it seems to work.”
How do these activities translate into CPD?
In addition, her role as coach for the heads of internal audit could also constitute verifiable CPD. Julia is likely to spend time researching coaching techniques to apply in her sessions and updating her skills in active listening, influencing and negotiating.
These activities to maintain and develop coaching skills could be verifiable CPD as they are relevant to her role, she can explain how she has applied the learning, and she can provide evidence that the session was undertaken (for example by providing her coaching notes or providing corroboration from the internal audit head).