The other side of the table – “Talk to me”
October 1995 was an amazing month for me. It was the first month in my life I was
active in an audit team, and little did I know how many audits would follow in the
years after, both in Belgium and abroad.
Let me set the scene: I was the youngest of a small audit team responsible for
auditing a small production facility which was part of a larger, international group. I
vividly remember walking into the “audit room”, the place where we stored our
working papers – yes, this dates me, doesn’t it – and where we could retreat to
document out any findings. It was a small room, and I wondered how even our
small audit team could all fit in there.
In short, we couldn’t and we wouldn’t, because we did not have to. As my senior,
the lead on the job, explained, my job as an auditor was not to sit in a small room
but to be out there, understanding, enquiring, making sense of what we saw, or did
not see in the processes. I needed to be among those who were being audited,
because that was where an auditor should be. My visits to the audit room were
mainly to bring her coffee or copies I made on the photocopier close by. Like most
young auditors, after a couple of months there were very few coffee machines or
copiers that still held secrets from me.
We were auditing the actual process, whatever that process was about. We were
there, our hands deep in the dirt, trying to understand, to describe but mainly to
listen to the people being audited. More often than not, these people with years of
experience knew exactly how to make the process function better. They were just
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