Thursday, May 21, 2015

Interview with Chief Audit Executive Carolyn Devine Saint

Carolyn Devine Saint recently joined the University as Chief Audit Executive. She is a past chair of the North American Board of The Institute of Internal Auditors and has extensive experience in internal audit. She previously served as Vice President of Internal Audit at 7-Eleven, Lowes, and Sears.  We recently asked her a few questions about her vision for her new role at the University. Here's what she had to say:

What attracted you to move from the private sector to higher education? 
I wanted to dedicate my energy to an organization with a sense of mission and purpose that aligns with my values. You could say I want to do more than help sell more Slurpees or hammers. While higher education has many business-like functions, it seems to place more emphasis on the humanity within its system than private sector companies do. That feels right.
What specifically about U.Va. compelled you to make the change?
Pat Hogan and his Executive Search Group. Their recruiting process made me feel as special as if they were recruiting the football coach! I admired the rigor of the search committee’s process and felt they understood the value of internal auditing by the way they went about finding a new Chief Audit Executive. It was tough! I met so many great people in the recruiting process and thought I could help materialize the vision they had for the department. In the end this was an offer I couldn’t refuse!

What are your early impressions of Charlottesville and the University?
Charlottesville is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. The mountains…the wineries…the artisinal restaurants…it’s easy to see why people never want to leave. The University itself is a marvel: brilliant people working in a lovely place with a keen sense of the past but with eyes clearly set on the future via the Cornerstone Plan. It’s a daunting and exciting place to work! I look forward to being a part of it.

What are the challenges facing Audit today?
Audit’s challenges at U.Va. are the same as those for auditors everywhere: how to add value to the companies they work in while struggling, like all departments, with limited resources—human and dollars—to do the work needed to be credible and trusted advisors on risk to the Board and executive management.
What are your priorities as you begin your role?
My priorities are to gain an understanding of the department’s charter and responsibilities in the context of the University’s strategy and culture; to align our work with the Cornerstone plan and strategic risks; and to enhance the department’s credibility with stakeholders through delivery of timely, valued insights on risks and controls. 

What are the most significant opportunities you see right now? 
I’d say the most significant opportunity is to question the status quo and make sure we really understand why we do things the way we do. The opportunity is to reinvent internal auditing at UVa!

What do you most look forward to?
Helping my team reinvent itself, redefine our internal culture, and build the kind of esprit de corps that makes the valuable work we do a joy. If we build this kind of team, we can help drive the culture of innovation and positive change that Pat Hogan and other leaders envision for U.Va.

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