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October 01, 2020
By Satish Shenoy
4 Min Read
A day in the life of a Chief Audit Executive (CAE)

The Blog on Internal Audit recently launched by BCAS prompted me to pen down my thoughts on what a day in the life of a CAE looks like – what are the activities and engagements that fill the day of a CAE?

As a precursor to writing this blog, I looked at my calendar for the past few weeks and based on that, I ‘curated’ a day in the life of a CAE, giving the readers a flavour of the myriad of issues and activities that keep a CAE engaged through the day.

In my search for some relevant articles, I chanced upon a beautiful article “Succeeding as a 21st Century Internal Auditor: 7 Attributes of Highly Effective Internal Auditors by Richard Chambers and Paul McDonald.” I thought to myself, the attributes listed in the article resonate with any leadership role in a business organisation, including that of a CAE.


Here’s a sneak peek at my day:

I leave home at 7.45a.m. fresh after a good night’s sleep, my morning philosophical thoughts, a brisk 60 minute morning walk and a sumptuous breakfast. Purposefully, I do not make or take calls during the commute time as I use this as “Me-time” to plan my day. (On days that I am working from home, my commute time is replaced by ‘quiet’ time when I gather my thoughts to plan my day.)

My plan today includes:

    • Creating strategies for countering difficult issues on hand, including a very serious process deviation with a high impact and it’s honest reporting in the ensuing Audit Committee;


    • Planning for a structured 30 minute discussion with a Business Head to update him on the outcome of the work done by my team in the past 2 quarters;


    • Informal calls to two senior business leaders which could perhaps help me gather clues for audit planning and execution;


    • Discussion with two team colleagues to help them tackle some personal and work related difficulties;


    • Discussion with a team colleague who has displayed an exemplary performance in a specific tough assignment and has earned the praise of the business;


    • A pep talk to motivate a high performing team which has suddenly shown a downward trend in performance;


    • Conveying to the HR, the proposed steps to increase gender diversity in the team;


    • Reviewing the progress made on Deep-Dive Data Analytics assignment which was done in partnership with the Group Data Analytics Team, and;


    • Making time to attend an exciting program on Future Trends in Auditing organised by a professional body.


As I glanced through the article by Chambers and McDonald, I was happy to note that the 7 attributes (Integrity, Relationship Building, Partnering, Communication, Team Work, Diversity and Continuous Learning) that the article dwells on seem so aligned to my activities of the day!  I reflect upon the article and draw parallels with my day – I realize that each of my planned activity is aligned to one or more of the attributes.

I reach my office and I have a surprise waiting. There is a voice message for me that the Chairman of the Audit Committee wants me to talk to him @ 11am for 20 minutes – icing on the cake on a day that was building up to be yet another eventful day.

As the day unfolds, I take a few moments to gather my learnings:

  • Not all things happen the way you plan;
  • Not all people react the way you want them to;
  • Some conversations are better than what you thought would be, and;
  • Some people will surprise you with their goodness.


As I reflect, I acknowledge some other attributes that we, as internal auditors, need to have – agility, use of technology, adoption of data analytics resulting in giving an assurance with 100% validation rather than on test basis, active listening and unflinching focus on results. Some other day, maybe I will write about these.

 As I am back in my car heading towards home, I introspect on my day, making a mental note of my unfinished agenda and new items lined up for the next day. I feel joyful, pleasurable, confident and contented – I indeed had a great day!!

What does your day at work look like? Is there something that you would like to change or do differently? Do you end your day with a sense of fulfilment?

I look forward to your feedback– let us have a peek into each other’s day, to make our days more fulfilling, more impactful.

The Blog solely reflects the personal views of the author(s).

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