In July, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) hosted it's annual international conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I had the opportunity, not only to attend the event, but also to speak at it. Read on for a recap of this incredible experience.
Leading Up to The Event
Back in 2022, I nervously submitted my proposal to present at this event. I had never been to the IIA's International Conference before, and I also had never travelled to Europe either, but I knew the audience would benefit from learning how to audit with agility. As soon as the event coordinators shared the great news that my proposal was accepted, my husband and I started planning our adventure. We took the opportunity to extend our trip to allow time to enjoy everything the conference has to offer, as well as to explore Europe. Thankfully, my husband loves booking travel (he may have missed his calling as a travel agent), so while I prepared my presentation materials, he planned out our travel and hotel stays.
The first half of 2023 passed incredibly quickly, as it was filled with adding finishing touches to my book, Beyond Agile Auditing: Three Core Components to Revolutionize Your Internal Audit Practices, preparing for the book's launch day and related events, and keeping up with everything else involved in balancing work and life. Time really does fly when you're having fun! Before I knew it, July was upon us and the trip was only a few days away. These days quickly became filled with planning, packing, polishing my presentation, and spending quality time with my son. As disappointed as he was when he found out he wouldn't be travelling to Europe with us, he quickly became elated when he found out he would get to spend an entire week with his grandparents.
In the final days leading up to our trip, I reflected on what I was most looking forward to:
- Sharing Auditing with Agility with an international audience
- In-person networking and meeting some of my new connections in person, especially those who don't live in America.
- Meeting new people passionate about internal auditing!
- Learning from others
- Exploring Europe
My first experience attending the IIA's International Conference did not disappoint! Joined by about 2,600 fellow internal auditors, I took advantage of the learning and networking opportunities during the event.
- Teaching attendees the "what", "why", and "how" of Auditing with Agility: I presented to a packed room of highly engaged attendees and shared insights from Beyond Agile Auditing. It was somewhat surreal when a line of attendees formed at the conclusion of my session, as they asked questions, asked me to sign their copies of Beyond Agile Auditing, and asked to take selfies with me.
- Meeting so many auditors, who are passionate about the profession. there are far too many to list individually, but for those of you who took the time to connect with me individually, I truly enjoyed meeting you and learning about your personal journeys.
- Watching Dr. Rainer Lenz win the 2023 Bradford Cadmus Memorial Award: Dr. Lenz is a global internal audit thought leader who continues to inspire me with his work. He was also one of the early readers for Beyond Agile Auditing, providing an endorsement quote you'll find on the back cover of the book.
- Meeting Steve Sanders in person: Having connected via LinkedIn and bonded over a shared passion for agility in auditing, we finally met in person. We have BIG plans to work together to advance the agility movement and keep the audit profession relevant. Stay tuned for more on this!
Exploring Amsterdam and Brussels
The conference was held in Amsterdam, so my husband and I spent a few days in Amsterdam (before and during the event), and took a train to Brussels after the conference.
In Amsterdam we walked almost everywhere we went. The sights and food were incredible. We took two canal tours and learned about the city's history.
Then we took a train to Brussels, where the architecture is absolutely stunning! My favorite building was the Cathedrale des Saints Michel et Gudule. We saw a number of other amazing sights before heading home to the US.
This was truly an unforgettable experience - from visiting new countries to making new connections and friends.
- Conferences are an incredible networking opportunity. While it may seem like I'm stating the obvious, this conference was pivotal for me. Previously, I primarily focused on attending other sessions to learn and further my professional development. While this is still part of my conference strategy, it is no longer my sole focus. While I learned from the sessions I attended, learned the most through interacting with other speakers and attendees. So while it may seem obvious, conferences are an incredible networking opportunity.
- The internal audit profession is focused on the future. A number of keynote and breakout sessions addressed emerging and evolving technology and the future of doing business. They painted a picture of where our clients are headed and emphasized the need for internal audit to keep up with where our organizationa are headed and help our clients as they become more digitally enabled. Our organizations are evolving, and we need to be ready for it.
I'm truly thankful for the opportunity to speak at this event and am looking forward to the next one.
For those of you who attended, what were your highlights?