Jamming with Jason E88: Lessons from a Chief Audit Executive with Sohail Saleem

In this week’s #jammingwithjason episode I speak with Sohail Saleem about lessons he learned from being a CAE. We discuss various topics including: investing time and money into your career development (and yes that even means out of your own pocket), having a vision, determining what you need to get to the next level, seeing the big picture, developing your soft-skills, and thinking outside of the box.

Take a listen to the episode to learn Sohail’s career path and advise on becoming a CAE.

So much wisdom from Sohail in this episode.

Sohail Saleem is the Executive Director of Internal Audit (CAE) at Mount Royal University
Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

#internalaudit #chiefauditexecutive #internalauditpodcast

Transcript

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Jason Mefford: Well, Welcome everybody to another episode of jamming with Jason. Hey, today we get to do one of my favorite kinds of episodes, which is talking to a fellow chief audit executive. So I have my friend Sohail Salim with me and he is the chief audit.

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Jason Mefford: Executive of the Mount Royal University.

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Jason Mefford: Based in Calgary Canada. So, so hey I’ll welcome. How you doing, man.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): I’m being good Jason, how about you.

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Jason Mefford: Good, good, good. Yeah. So, you know, I always like doing these episodes, because I get people that contact me all the time. How do I become a chief audit executive, it’s like well listen to some of the podcast episodes.

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Jason Mefford: So it’s, it’s kind of fun here. So maybe give people

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Jason Mefford: A little background of your career because I know you’ve moved internationally.

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Jason Mefford: Too right, so sometimes people are interested in that as well.

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Jason Mefford: You know, especially because I’m from the US. I would get a lot of people in the Middle East, particularly, hey, I want to move to the US and work. And I’m like, Okay, well it’s it’s not quite that simple.

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Jason Mefford: So, so you’ve got some of that that kind of story to share. I mean, moving to Canada, obviously, but so maybe just kind of give people a little background in your career and kind of how you moved up and some of the things that you’ve learned, you know, to get to your point. Now as chief executive.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Sure, sure. Definitely, Jason. So, you know, I started my internet career in Pakistan. So I remember it was 1999 when I started my career in into nodded and coming from

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): From a background of competing my MBA. I went into into not it, which is, you know, different because a lot of people, they start doing

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You know, they start they finished their CPA or a C, and they go into internet Mine wasn’t a bit different.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): So I had no idea where I’m landing gears. So started my career at until not it there that was basically a health care you know organization come University, and that was in Pakistan, it’s a it’s a sort of an NGO called the icon university but had international

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Branches across, across the world. And I started my career there and I quickly realized that in order for me to move forward. I need to

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Get some additional qualifications some additional experiences and to not aid and that was a wonderful organization for me to start doing my into nodded. They’re getting my experience I finished my CIA in a year. So that was the first thing which I did so.

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Jason Mefford: Congratulations. Yeah, that that was 20 years ago now. So in the year 2000 is when I finished my CIA

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And that was fantastic, because it gave me an excellent understanding of risk and controls and things like that and and then you know I continued with with that organization and got my my see saw, which was in 2004

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): But that was the thing which which was great and I said that, hey, I, I think I lack my accounting designation, because that one is important. Right. So I started my ACC and as you know that’s something very popular.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): In in Pakistan in Middle East, and it’s a UK qualification. So finish that you know that give me some some edge in terms of, of having some of the current credentials credentials, besides my name.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And. And that was an area where I started. And as I progressed in my internal one of my dream was to become the head of internal audit that

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Was why I’m here. I am

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): With Mount Royal university of being the head of internal audit in 2006 is where I got an opportunity to migrate to Canada.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): I was still before I migrated. I was the manager internal audit at the icon University Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And I moved here took a senior auditor role, you know, because as you know that yeah in order when you move, you have to, you know, sacrifice some things so I moved down one level.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And quickly moved back to manager into nodded and stayed there for for for quite some time changed my jobs.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And and got my CPA and other designations. And one of the key things which was important for me as a progress is really to

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): To understand in terms of where I am and where I want to go. A WAR. HOW IN head off into nodded. You know, work in the organization. So I

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Tried to connect with lot of people across different industries. Some of those were my mentors who were able to provide me some some advice from that perspective.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Really understanding the trends of into nodded, where it was where it’s going.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Being on top of a magazine conferences connections. I think that was so critical for me. Yeah. And again, understanding the business. It’s also very important, because if you wanted to progress.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You need to understand the business, you have to be flexible. You have to be strategic in from that perspective. So all of those things were critical for me as I climbed my career. From that perspective.

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Jason Mefford: Okay, well, so we got to unpack some of that because

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Jason Mefford: You just went a lot of places, right. So, so I just wanted to highlight and maybe kind of go back and touch on a couple of these things, again, right, because

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Jason Mefford: You know, again, people are listening to this and sometimes they kind of skip over it. But, you know, one of the reasons I love doing these episodes. Is it is it shows people kind of the path to take, right and and a lot of people, you know, I was told, a long time ago.

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Jason Mefford: You know, if you want to be successful if you want to get to a certain place, look at what people are doing that are at that place, right. So how did they get there. What made them successful, how did they get there.

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Jason Mefford: And so, you know, it’s interesting. So if we back up. You know, you said you didn’t go kind of the traditional route because a lot of people do.

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Jason Mefford: Often start in public accounting and then kind of move over right but you went right from your MBA into an internal audit role. So, you know, they don’t teach you any of that stuff MBA school. At least they didn’t mind. Right.

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Jason Mefford: So you realized, Okay, just a minute. Now, if I’m going to be an auditor and if I’m gonna do this as my career MBA is great.

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Jason Mefford: But I probably need some other things. Right, right. So you got your CIA you got your CC, you got your A CCA and then I think probably once you got to Canada, you did your CPA.

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Jason Mefford: So, you know, I always talk about kind of three big certifications and it’s usually a CIA see says CPA usually one of those everybody should have

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Jason Mefford: You don’t necessarily need to have all three.

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You do.

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Jason Mefford: But if you’re if you’re serious about a career and internal audit you need to consider getting at least one of those. And then maybe some other things, depending on what you’re doing right so

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Jason Mefford: And I’m guessing to so so I’m going to kind of ask a blind question here because I didn’t ask you this before but you know you went through, you got you got four different certifications. Right.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And I had a few more but ok ok so this. So these so you got more to right okay

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Jason Mefford: So a lot of times people

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Jason Mefford: You know they want their company to pay for it. And it’s great companies should pay for it. But let me ask you, did your company pay for all of these

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): So I would say for a CIA and CC yes for my ACC. I have to pay for my own pocket, and that was investment and same one for the for the CPA as well. So, so it’s, I would say, with a combination of both.

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Jason Mefford: Yeah. So, and that’s usually what I’ve seen, too, is it’s a combination. Sometimes the company will pay. Sometimes they won’t, but successful people that move into roles like chief audit executive they’re willing to invest in themselves.

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Jason Mefford: In time and money. Right. Sometimes it means you have to pull money out of your pocket to to invest in yourself, but I’m guessing you kind of got that back in your salary. Didn’t you

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Definitely it eventually pays JASON Right. I think if you look at from that perspective that it’s your investment and you’re investing yourself. That’s very important. So

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Yeah, your designations your training. All those things are so important for you, for you to move up from that perspective. Yeah.

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Jason Mefford: Well, and because, you know, again, it’s one of the partners that I worked for a long time ago. He told me if you’re not willing to invest in yourself and why should I

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Jason Mefford: Right. And it’s like, oh,

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Jason Mefford: You know that kind of that kind of hits you back a little bit, but it’s like well you know what he’s actually right.

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Jason Mefford: And it’s kind of funny. There’s another book it’s it’s off topic a little bit, but it’s called the millionaire mindset, right.

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Jason Mefford: And in that book, you know, he’s talking about, you know, like we were talking about before. If you want to be successful. You want to be a chief audit executive look at what they’re doing. Right.

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Jason Mefford: If you want to be a millionaire. Look at what do millionaires do and it surprised me. One of the things that was in that book is those people invest about 10% of their annual income in their own personal development. Hmm.

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Jason Mefford: Interesting out of

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Jason Mefford: This. So, again, you know, we can see many people go back and listen to previous episodes on lessons. If it’s from a chief executive.

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Jason Mefford: You’re going to hear the same thing, folks. Yeah, don’t actually invest in yourself. But like you said it eventually ends up paying off okay right so

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Jason Mefford: The other thing that you brought out because, you know, like I said you you migrated to Canada, and I know I get a lot of people that asked me.

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Jason Mefford: About this right. And so I think it was important, what you brought up you know in in Pakistan. You were a manager.

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Jason Mefford: But in order to move to the other countries. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards in your career to be able to move forward. Right. So you went from a manager down to senior to be able to do that.

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Jason Mefford: In the other thing you know maybe just to

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Jason Mefford: Not to belabor it, but since so many people have asked me to write because I get asked about the US. I don’t know what it’s like in Canada, but I’m guessing there to

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Jason Mefford: You know you probably had to go there first. Right. And then actually get the job once you had gotten there as well.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Yes. So mostly that that that is but you know I was lucky ones where you know I I already had a job, you know, I applied for few positions and

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And from Pakistan, I was able to get a job in Canada. It was an Edmonton in a healthcare organization they were looking for somebody who had a

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You know, had internet experience in a healthcare organization and that match my profile. So, so I was one where I got a job. So I landed there with a job, but I know a lot of immigrants.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): They once they come in, they have to die, you know, applying for jobs which sometimes would take some time for them to do it, but it’s not impossible, you have to

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You know, connect with people understand the environment. And as you said, sometimes you have to go one level down from that perspective, but having some of the designations, and the experiences. What is critical for you to take you to the next level of that standpoint.

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Jason Mefford: Yeah, because you were able to move across industry, effectively, right. So you went from health care in Pakistan to healthcare in Canada so that helped you out. Yeah. Excuse me. But again, like you said, those credentials ended up helping

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Right.

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Jason Mefford: And and I’m sure that the, you know, having been a hiring manager myself if I can hire somebody who’s qualified as a manager, but as at the senior level. Yeah, that’s pretty good deal too.

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Jason Mefford: So, okay, well great light. And like I said, because a lot of people end up asking me about that. And I know that I have, you know, there’s a lot of people listening around the world in different places. So, some of them may be wanting to do that too. Now,

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Jason Mefford: I also thought it was interesting. A couple other things you said there, right, is that you had to know where I am and where I want to go.

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Jason Mefford: And I think that’s such an important thing for people to know right so maybe let’s dig into that a little bit. I mean,

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Jason Mefford: You said you know at some point in your career, you decided you wanted to be the head of audit. Right. Right. Okay. And I’m guessing you weren’t the head of audit at the time. So you knew where you were. And then when you decide where you want to be, I guess, how do you kind of go about

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Jason Mefford: You know your gap analysis on that figure out what it is that you need to do to help you get to that point. So maybe help help people kind of walk through that process. Well, the things you knew you needed to do if someday you wanted to be the head about it.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Right. I think the first pieces as we study have to have a vision right in terms of where you want to be. So that was something important. For me, as I said, was

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You know my vision was to be head of internet in an organization do to start with and

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And obviously really see myself, I would say, okay, at least I have two levels before I become the head of internet and from that perspective so

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): What would be the next level, you know in terms in terms of that, what would I need to be successful. From that perspective. So I think that is important and and the first thing I scan and say okay

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): If you wanted to become a head of internal audit. What, what credentials, you need from our perspectives and as you highlighted, you know, some of those credentials.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): I was able to to get to it so that that makes my life easy. From that perspective. So that was the first thing

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): The second thing for me is to to be more strategic from that perspective, see the big picture. I think that is very, very important. If you

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Just focusing on your day to day internal stuff doing transaction ordering just doing your work and then going home, come back to the same a day.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): I’ve seen people who spent 10 1520 years doing the same thing and and they’re on the same position from that perspective. So you have to be strategic. From that perspective.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): See, you know what what qualifications, what

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Characteristics a chief interlocutor should have from that perspective, we know soft skills is so critical. From that perspective.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Yeah, as a chief or an executive, you have to, you know, report to the Board, you have to connect with senior management.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): So your soft skills is so important how you interact with people, how you help them from that perspective. So those are things which you observe even you in a job or you see your chief executive speaking

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You know with in front of other senior management. We are going as part of our lesson opening meeting or it’s an exit meeting.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Or doing some presentation you observe and you learn so much from that perspective. And that was something very powerful for me.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Was to understand. Listening is so important and observing seeing them how they interact with people that is very, very important.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): In my mind from that perspective. So that was something which I, I, you know, try to learn every day from that perspective.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And and how you could be innovative. I think that is very important because my thought every day was to think outside of the box. I think that is so important.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Because if you just come on, on, do what you have been doing, you would not end up doing because if you put things, you know, if you put the same ingredients, the output would be exactly the same. You have to try it.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): In this definitely that is so important. And the way you do it.

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Jason Mefford: Is

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): In my mind is a see what’s the trends out there you know we are fortunate where we are in an environment where information is so powerful and

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And those information you could easily access across the globe. Right. So connecting with your peers connecting with your other you know people occur.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Within the industry or outside of the industry reading about into lauded what people are trying and use your mind to create do things from that perspective and try things differently would give you an edge and would show that how you are interesting and adding value from that perspective.

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Jason Mefford: Mm hmm. Well, I think it’s you know it’s interesting what you said there because the

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Jason Mefford: As auditors. Okay. And most of the personalities of people that are drawn to auditing is we’re kind of square right we like to. We like to work inside the rules.

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Jason Mefford: Were we’re rule followers. We like to kind of, you know, there’s those terms in the definition of internal auditing systematic and discipline.

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Jason Mefford: Yeah, our nature. Right. And so you get so many people that just want to do things in the same way all the time, right. Like, look at the standards, the standard says I have to do it this way I do it this way or

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Jason Mefford: My internal policy, say I do it this way. So I have to do it this way. Right.

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Jason Mefford: And now here you come along and you’re saying, well, we need to be a little innovative, we need to look at things outside of our profession as well.

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Jason Mefford: And, you know, try to do things a little different. Now I know for a lot of people listening. When we say try things a little differently. They’re going to be like, are you kidding me why.

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Jason Mefford: So, so maybe you know let’s let’s talk about that a little bit. I mean what, what were some of those things. Maybe that

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Jason Mefford: That you tried a little differently or that you were able to learn, you know, maybe outside of your company outside of audit that you bring into audit that helped you to be more more innovative that way.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Right, so, you know, I would say that, you know, the first thing is that in order to do things differently.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You know it’s trying new things, but also taking on more responsibilities, right. So, so if you are a senior auditor or you’re a manager and and and the first thing is that you have to fulfill your duties and responsibilities, but the other pieces that you have to show interest to your

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Manager or your leader that you want to take next steps right and you want to learn and you want to add value. So you could

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Come and have a discussion with yours are you with your supervisor and say hey you know I’m doing all those things, but I would like to contribute more. I want to take on more responsibilities and

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And I know most of them if they see that you are doing great things already and you are showing interest you, they would give you some of the things which they used to do and they would delegate to you.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): That’s a perfect opportunity for you to do something where you are actually trying to do things, which is one level above that and if you do those things, a year, two years,

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You were actually at that level already because you already understand that was one of the technique I would use that I would go to my support and say, hey, can you, can I help you on this. Can I help you on this.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): This means that you have to put extra time extra effort into that, that’s fine, because I want to go up from that perspective. So when I said do things differently. It also means taking on more responsibility from that perspective.

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Jason Mefford: Well, and that’s that’s a good thing for people to remember right now because, you know, again, let’s say that you’re a senior and you want to become a manager. Right. So again, if you go to your manager, if you

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Jason Mefford: This was another thing I kind of learned right if you make your boss’s job easier by doing more of their work.

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Jason Mefford: Right, right. Then, what you’re doing is you’re you’re making life easy for your boss.

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Jason Mefford: It’s allowing them to move up in the organization. Right. And it’s allowing you to move up as well. Because if you’re a senior

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Jason Mefford: But you’re taking on some of these additional responsibilities. So you’re already somewhat acting like a manage her even though you’re still a senior

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Jason Mefford: Well, gee, when when a manager position comes open right it’s gonna be a lot easier for them to say, hey, so Hales already really kind of like a manager already. He’s already doing all these things. Why don’t we just promote him right

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Very important. I think you nailed it. Jason, you know, organizations they look for people who are actually already. So if you already are doing

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Some of those work, you would be the first person to to be contacted say hey you know you. This is a job from that perspective, do you want to do for

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You may have spent some time into your organization and you know that you may not be able to to move up for, for some reason, either, you know, the depositions have not been open

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): That gives you an opportunity to look somewhere else and and see if you find something and you can actually tell in your interview that hey I’m been doing those things from that perspective.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): So it’s very important. For example, when I was working before in my

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Job, I was the manager into nodded, but I used to help my chief or executive in preparing the audit committee packages.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And I offered if I could go in and present or my my intellect package to the origin risk committee I was given that opportunity because I was interested

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And I demonstrate that I would be conferred. This means I used to do rehearsals and things like that with my team or an executive

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): So unless you want speak, you won’t get that opportunity. So I think that’s very important, as you said that you demonstrate your interest and things would work. And you have to be positive from that.

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Jason Mefford: Well, and it kind of goes back another word that as you were talking popped into my head is initiative. Yeah, right, that you have to, you have to have interest.

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Jason Mefford: But you also have to take initiative, right. So, so again you know like

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Jason Mefford: Earlier on, you kind of said about the people that just kind of, you know, they come in, they do the job they go home. They come in, they do the job they come home, they kind of stay stuck in the details.

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Jason Mefford: And 10 or 15 years later, they’re still doing the same job right even if they might be interested in getting promoted if they’re not taking some initiative.

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Jason Mefford: And others in the organization. See that they’re taking initiative, they’re probably going to be stuck, where they are. Right. And so, you know, like you said, having the initiative to go back to the chief audit executive and say hey you know what I want to help.

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Jason Mefford: With with the board packet. I’d like to come to the meetings, I’d like to see what’s going on. I’d like to, you know, maybe present part of part of the meeting. Right.

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Jason Mefford: That shows the person above you, in the organization that you have that initiative, you’re interested, but you’re also willing to do it right and I know sometimes that means you might be. You might have to work a little bit more as well height but

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You know,

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Jason Mefford: To two things that I that I learned when I was very young, when I was still a teenager. My mother told me one time, she said.

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Jason Mefford: If you want to if you want to get ahead of everybody else in your office and she did this right she she was always at work 15 minutes before she had to be there.

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Jason Mefford: And she always stayed at least 15 minutes after she could leave. Right. And she moved up from being a secretary to being the office manager admin person in her office right

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Jason Mefford: Because she was willing to show up, take the initiative be there. A little bit longer than everybody else was

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Jason Mefford: In that showed and helped her move up right another another family friend that we had. He was, he actually sold insurance. He was an insurance salesman.

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Jason Mefford: And he told me one time, he said, you know what the differences between a person that sells insurance. It only works 40 hours a week.

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Jason Mefford: And somebody who who works 50 hours a week and I’m like, What do you mean

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Jason Mefford: I’m a teenager, trying to wonder what he’s doing. He’s like the people that show up and only put in 40 hours a week.

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Jason Mefford: Right. They don’t earn very much money, the people that are willing to put in that extra little bit they earned 50 to 100% more

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Jason Mefford: Than the insurance agents that only showed up for 40 hours a week, right. And so it’s it’s the same thing. If you take that if you have that vision and you take that long term approach right

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Jason Mefford: It might mean again, whether it’s certifications. Okay, you’re going to spend some more time studying and taking the exams and other people are

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Jason Mefford: If you’re showing up early. If you’re asking for more responsibility, you’re probably going to spend a little bit more time at work than some of the other people are

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Jason Mefford: But long term for your career that that return is going to be huge right and and it always got me when, like I said, when that family, friends, said the difference between 40 and 50 hours. And I’m like,

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Jason Mefford: 10 hours, isn’t that much difference for a lot more money, right, or a lot more responsibility, whatever it comes to kind of at that point. So,

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Right.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And and Jason, it’s, it’s how you think right if if you’re thinking that, hey, I’ve been paid for this 40 hours, for example, and that’s what I would do.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): That’s what you would fulfill in terms of your role and your duties, but but that may not help you in in in meeting your goals and objectives and your vision from that perspective. So I think

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Putting in extra is is very important. However, I also want to highlight here that you also have to work smart. That is very important because

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): I’ve seen people. And I know that our job requires to be detail oriented, and that is, no, you know, no doubt from that perspective. However, you have to see we are providing reasonable assurance. We’re not providing absolute assurance.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And I’ve seen in my career, I’ve seen auditors.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): who spend hundreds and hundreds of hours in doing what they do. You could finish a project in 400 hours, you can finish a project in three or 5000 hours right

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): So you have to see what is reasonable, you have to sit back, understand the big picture. What are you trying to achieve here from that perspective.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And how you’d be able to do a certain time.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): A certain project in a given time with with the best and providing reasonable assurance from that perspective. So working smartly is very important.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Because if you don’t work smart, you end up exhausting all your hours on one or two projects and you won’t even time to think about different things, right, so that is very important to ask smart, think about things outside of the box and put extra effort as required.

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Jason Mefford: Yeah. Well, and that’s that’s a good reminder to because

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Jason Mefford: As you were saying that I was thinking, oh gosh, I hope people don’t think we’re saying just work just work more and then you’ll get promoted, right, because that’s, that’s a good point. It’s like

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Jason Mefford: It’s not about working harder or working longer hours, necessarily, it’s about working smarter. Yeah.

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Jason Mefford: Right, because I know you know people that work for me. Hey, if, if I’ve got somebody who can do the same job, let’s say in six hours that it takes everybody else normally eight hours to do

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Jason Mefford: Then you know i know that i can give that person more responsibility, they’re more efficient in their time. And so, that person is probably going to be the one that will get more responsibility will get promoted. So it’s not just the number of hours, but it’s actually working smarter.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): As. Right, exactly. And one more thing. Jason is that

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): There are do shortcuts. Right, we can. You can be the head of internal audit or you move to a senior to a manager overnight. You have to work for it. Right.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): So if you’re not if you’re not getting promoted or you’re not moving up the ladder.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You know, six months or a year. Don’t give up. I would say, right, work hard, continue to put effort because if you have that vision, you would eventually get there. I’d be have to be positive. That is very, very important.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): In my mind and and and and you will get that it might be later, it might not be sooner but you know if you’re on the right track. You’re working hard. You are smarter.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): You’re getting more experience you are understanding the trends and internal audit you are connecting with people all those things are important for you to move on in your in your in your career.

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Jason Mefford: Well, and

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Jason Mefford: Kind of one of the other areas that you touched on before to that. I think it’s so important.

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Jason Mefford: Is around understanding the business.

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Jason Mefford: And, you know, again, because I you know that plus the soft skills side of it because I’ve, I’ve trained people for decades now, right, and it’s

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Jason Mefford: And it’s, it always is funny to me how especially in our profession. We all want the technical training right who. Show me, show me how to how to, you know, prevent and detect fraud, because that’s cool. Right.

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Jason Mefford: And so people spend all of their time on on some of these technical areas and how to be a better auditor.

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Jason Mefford: Technically, but then usually just kind of ignore or forget the whole part of understanding the business and the soft skills you know that you brought up. So there’s another trend everybody who’s listening.

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Jason Mefford: You know, invest in yourself, soft skills, everybody that I’ve talked to on here has been saying these things right is

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Jason Mefford: That we that we do need to focus on those areas as well. Right. Because to me, that’s what really sets apart the people you know to get to the manager or director level, you really have to start developing and knowing those things right.

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Jason Mefford: Right and and understand the business because I remember that, too. When I was way, way, way, way back when I worked at Arthur Andersen. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: We had one of the phases in our audit was called understand the business. Yeah. And I remember, you know, so I’ve been talking about this for 2530 years

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Jason Mefford: But it’s it’s it always kind of was funny to me that people say well i i understand our business right so like I might look at you and say, Well, I work at a university, I understand that. I work at a university. It’s like, I don’t think that’s what understand the business means right

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Jason Mefford: It doesn’t mean I know I worked for a university. It’s like, what are the leavers that drive a university, right, what’s the business behind a university. What are those, you know, strategic level things that you have to be concerned with young running an organization, you know, like a university.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Yeah, exactly. And I think if you’re in a company, you don’t know your company’s mission. You don’t know the strategic plan that business plan.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And you don’t know their values, I think you won’t be able to achieve much, I would say, because everything you do has to have that linkage

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): To the, to the organization’s strategic goals and objectives. So it’s very important first for you to understand your organization from a, from a holistic standpoint.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And and then you have to also understand, you know, some of the key corporate policies and procedures and the goals and objectives. Those are very, very important.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And and also not only, you know, for example, if I’m with the post secondary institutions, it’s very important for me to know what’s happening in other post secondary institutions.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): For example, in this corporate environment what they are doing. Right. It’s important for if I need to add value. I need to know what my other you know peers are doing from that perspective. So it’s very important for you to

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): To understand that, and you’d be able to know more about by connecting with people across, across those you know organizations.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): going and doing more research from that perspective. So everything is, is, you know, sort of, you have to come behind together to to ensure that you are the right level to add value and you understand your business.

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Jason Mefford: Very, very, very true. Oh my goodness. This has been. This has been great. Now usually, I like to kind of ask one more question, too, because I think

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Jason Mefford: You know you and I have lived through lots of stuff right and and it’s it’s

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Jason Mefford: I always kind of like to ask people at the end here because you know we’re talking about career and development, you know, and what kind of advice would you give

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Jason Mefford: Either to your younger self or maybe to someone else who is in that younger party in their career. Right. So. So think back maybe when you were a senior auditor.

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Jason Mefford: Right and knowing. Now what you know what kind of advice would you give to your younger self or to maybe somebody else who’s a senior or something like that out there.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Right. I think my advice to them would be a, you know, don’t give up. I think that is important, right, if you try to come up with a vision of where do you want to see yourself in the next five or 10 years

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): And then identify those things which would help you move to that level. I mean, you could go, you may want to connect with other

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): People who have been at that level to get advice from them. But at the end of the day, you have to

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Document your own plan that is very important. From that perspective and and and and you have so many things available. There are so many tools available for you that would help you

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): To do, be able to meet your mandate, so be positive, not only work hard, but work smarter. That is very important have excellent listening skills and be a good observer, because those are free. You don’t have to pay sometimes

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Follow these things.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Right. But if you are a good observer, you see things you observe things and you learn each and every day and invest in yourself as you highlighted earlier, that is so important.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): It’s not an expense. It’s an investment on you and and that would pay off you in the longer runs don’t think on a short term basis. Think about 510 or 15 years from that perspective and you would get there.

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Jason Mefford: Yeah. Well, I appreciate that you said that too because, you know, again, sometimes I feel like I’m the only one saying this, and people

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Jason Mefford: But it’s like, you know, folks, if you’re not willing to spend $100 $500 $1,000 on your personal investment in in growing you know yourself and you know a lot of people can’t help you if you’re not willing to do that for yourself.

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Jason Mefford: You know, but again, like like you’ve seen in your career, I’ve seen in my career, you know you you invest that you know 2000 $3,000 maybe in a new certification.

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Jason Mefford: And then you get a new job that’s paying you maybe 10 or $15,000 a year more

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Jason Mefford: You know, you’re going to earn that 10 or $15,000 a year for the rest of your career. Right, right. So, investing that let’s say $3,000 may end up giving you $300,000

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Jason Mefford: Over the life of your career and you know yeah we got to remember that. And then I love to what you said about don’t give up.

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Jason Mefford: Yeah, I remember it. I can’t remember if this is a true story, or if it’s more like a metaphor, but the story kind of goes that this, this person had a plot of land. Right. And so, and they were digging for gold or diamonds or something like that. They were mining

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Jason Mefford: And they were digging and digging and digging on, go on, you know, for for a while.

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Jason Mefford: And then finally, they’re like, you know, forget this. There’s nothing here. I’m going to travel the world and go find some other place right to dig for my gold or diamonds

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Jason Mefford: And literally, this person was three feet away from this huge gold vein, but they laughed because they gave up before they got there.

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Jason Mefford: And so that that’s the kind of the story is, it’s three feet from gold is the ideas don’t give up just before you’re ready to hit the gold mine, if you will. Right, and I think I see a lot of people that that do that in their career as well and it’s it’s sad to see

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Jason Mefford: So don’t give up. If you’ve got that vision, just keep working it and figure out, you know how to get there.

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Jason Mefford: It might mean that you have to move countries that might mean you have to take a step backwards in your career to then be able to move forward.

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Jason Mefford: It might mean that you have to move to another organization. But, you know, again, keep that vision in your mind. Keep doing what it takes to get to the next level. And you too can be like Sohail

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Jason Mefford: And someday be a chief audit executive if that’s your goal, right.

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Jason Mefford: And again, it’s not for everybody, but the whole purpose is. You been successful in your career, people can learn from that. Then again, like you said, they just have to decide, you know, where am I now and where do I want to go and start coming up with a plan for themselves. So

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Jason Mefford: I hope you had fun so hell. I did.

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Jason Mefford: No thank you.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Thank you, Jason, for the opportunity to have this podcast. That was excellent. And if I could be any help, you know, we the people can connect with me on LinkedIn and more than happy to, to help them and provide them more more thoughts and insight and advice.

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Jason Mefford: Well, thanks. I really appreciate. I appreciate you sharing because that’s really kind of the whole idea behind the podcast is

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Jason Mefford: get information out there help people improve their lives invest in themselves so they can have the life that they have in their vision and their dreams. So thanks again for coming on. So hell.

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SOHAIL SALEEM (Mount Royal University): Right. Excellent. Thank you.

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Thanks.