Sarah Pumfrett is a consultant, independent board member and Audit & Risk Assurance committee chair at AHDB
How did you come to be in Internal Audit?
I left school at 16 immediately after completing my ‘O’ Grades, and started work the following day in an ironmongers shop where I sold everything from fine china and Piquotware to maggots by the pint! I’ve held a variety of, mostly administrative, jobs in a number of sectors since, including: engineering, local authority, education, agriculture, and charitable sector. In 1998 I had 2 job options – driving an ambulance and training to be a paramedic or taking a role as an internal audit clerk…and the rest, as they say, is history!
What do you enjoy about being an internal auditor?
There’s no such thing as a typical day in Internal Audit, although broadly my work falls into 3 phases of: preparation (finding out about the business), fieldwork (interviewing; reviewing evidence of risk management controls; and documenting results), and wrap (concluding on the effectiveness of risk management controls; performing root cause analysis on control gaps and failures; agreeing actions, to address the deficiencies, with management; and issuing the report).
I have worked globally and have experience in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Americas to date. I’ve visited such diverse and interesting locations as Luanda (Angola), Tehran (Iran), Damascus (Syria), and Anchorage (Alaska USA) amongst many others.
The part of my work I enjoy most is meeting people and finding out about their work, what they enjoy and what they struggle with. It’s always great to see the enthusiasm others have for their job, and particularly rewarding to be able to enhance the controls framework – especially when this involves simplifying a bunch of processes that don’t effectively manage the risk the way they should, and replacing them with one or two controls that do! Feeling that you have helped the organisation, and the staff, to “achieve more with less” is always good.