Stefanie Chen’s role as Internal Audit Manager at Bureau Veritas requires constant travelling and an ability to quickly adapt to new environments. She tells A Plus why she delved into the world of building trust, and why being a confident communicator is key to being a good internal auditor
What is your current role and responsibilities? How is it going so far?
I’m currently an Internal Audit Manager at Bureau Veritas, an international certification agency with offices in 140 countries. I have worked here since May 2018 and I'm in charge of the Asia-Pacific region. Our main business lies in testing, inspection and independent certification for consumer, electrical, wireless and automotive markets to ensure products, infrastructure and processes meet quality standards and regulations – and beyond to social responsibility. Our department works with Bureau Veritas’ entities to ensure their financials and operations are compliant with international financial reporting standards and our company’s policy. I’d say the job is going very well so far! I’m usually out of town for two weeks every month in places such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Mainland China, and Vietnam.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role, and why?
The work can be very challenging. Being an internal auditor requires not just auditing skills but excellent communication skills. In addition to on-site audits, we need to conduct interviews with members of each entity’s top management to determine the functions or operations they need to improve on. At the end of each two-week inspection, we meet with those members of management to present our findings. We need to be well prepared and truly understand the solutions we are offering, as some might challenge our findings. This means collecting all the relevant evidence and supporting documents. But the work so rewarding, especially when board members thank us for helping them to solve problems.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far and how did you overcome it?
One challenge I’m always faced with is finishing a project in a new country with completely new people – who may not speak the same language. I need to be a quick learner, and quickly adapt to new environments in order to manage different clients and build a good relationship with people right from the start.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned so far from work experience or managers?
The need to be a good listener. I try to really understand people and put myself in their shoes – this is especially relevant as a manager. I need to closely listen and respond to my team members, and understand their reasons behind shortcomings, such as a lack of resources or manpower. Luckily, we are all very open to share and speak up on issues that may arise.
Which continuing professional development (CPD) course was the most useful?
I attended the Career Conference: Young Accountants @tech in 2018 which involved guest speakers covering how technology is helping the accounting profession. I also took an online CPD course on internal assurance operational risk management, which is very helpful in my role.
How do you think the Qualification Programme has helped you in your career so far, or prepared you for your current role?
As an internal auditor, Module C business assurance was the most helpful as it taught us what documents are required during an internal audit, what sorts of questions to ask, and what to verify. The knowledge I gained is still very relevant today.