I joined SCG for a career in audit and accounting. My first degree was in logistics and I did not know auditing and accounting.
An auditor has a unique opportunity to view the inner workings of a company, interact with senior management, and people essential to its daily operations.
Looking back to my first audit, at the Plantation SOCFINAF Ghana (PSG), I remember worrying about doing an excellent job, and meeting the expectations of Collins and Naphtali (my bosses).
Insist on the right thing
The first assignment was to observe the stock count of PSG. I was excited to climb the heaps of fertilizer and do the test counts. But counting the bags was impossible because the storekeepers had not arranged the bags.
Collins, the partner, demanded that they rearrange the bags. Although he met resistance, he referred them to the stock count instructions issued by PSG. The instruction was that all inventory should be arranged in the warehouses to aid counting.
This was the first lesson I learned in the field: Insist that the people do the right thing.
Always enquire, never assume
I also noticed that Collins asked a lot of questions about things he was not clear about, using the 5Ws and 1H – why, what, when, who, where and how.
As the days went by, I got to do other tasks. I wrote a report on the stock count exercise, observed the cash count and wrote a report on it. I took minutes during meetings and prepared work papers. To do these tasks, I used the knowledge gained from the earlier discussions with Collins and Alex, my senior colleagues.
I learned my second lesson: Always enquire, never assume.
Confidence and assertiveness
My first work paper was on Technical and Management Assistance Fees. The goal was to gather enough evidence to conclude that the amount was accurate.
At first, I wasn’t confident I could do a decent job. But I realized I should use what I had learned to test management’s assertion of accuracy, validity, and occurrence. And to do that, I had to ask the staff in the finance department about the account and get supporting documents to verify the assertions.
Later, Collins asked about my progress. When I told him all I had done he said, “Emefa, you are allowing them to bully you. Be assertive”.
I learned my third lesson: self-confidence and assertiveness.
As the days went by, I gained confidence and experience, as my understanding and application of basic audit concepts increased.
It was a great experience for me (the change of environment, the food, the people, and field work). Here are the lessons I learned:
- Insist on doing the right thing.
- Ask Questions
- Be confident and assertive
- Learn from feedback
- Watch and listen
- Communicate problems as they arise.