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Internal Audit Recruitment: A Professional Journey

Guy Stacey, IAC Recruit.

Here at Internal Audit Connections, we like to give you as potential clients and candidates a thorough and fully rounded insight into our expertise and how IAC can help your internal audit career.

Whether it is progressing further in your current position or taking that first all-important step up the internal audit career ladder, it is always good to hear directly from those with industry experience.

What better way to see how IAC can help you than by listening to an internal audit professional who has worked closely with IAC and utilised their services?

We take a look at the work and professional journey of Asif Bhatti, Director of Internal Audit at hospitality giant Whitbread. We quizzed him on how he got to where he is today, his relationship with IAC and his recommendations for individuals looking to develop their career in internal audit.

Asif Bhatti, Director of Internal Audit, Whitbread
Asif Bhatti, Director of Internal Audit, Whitbread

Q.) How would you describe your professional journey from a junior/entry level to the present?

A: I qualified with PwC, and started my industry journey with the global firm Cable & Wireless. I spent several years at PolyGram and Universal Music and in various finance roles, including Head of Financial Planning and Analysis and an FD role in subsidiaries in Turkey and the Czech Republic. I also spent some time in the publishing industry and several years as the Head of Internal Audit and Risk for the John Lewis Partnership before I joined the Whitbread Group.

Q.) Describe how you came into contact with Guy Stacey and how your relationship with IAC has developed over the past decade.

A: I’ve known Guy for over 10 years, having first met him whilst working as the Head of Internal Audit for Trinity Mirror plc. I also use Guy and his team to identify high-calibre candidates for numerous roles.

Q.) How would you say your relationship with IAC has helped your personal career development?

A: I’ve used Guy and the team for his unique insight into the market and as a sounding board on career options.

Q.) Describe a typical day in the life of the Director of Internal Audit at Whitbread plc.

A: The days vary significantly, but I always start the week with a team catch-up. I’m often on site visits seeing the operations and gathering insight on and developing relationships with stakeholders. On other days I can be in the office providing direction and support for the team and driving the risk and controls agenda.

Q.) What makes IAC stand out from other specialist Internal Audit recruiters you have had experience with to date?

A: I think it’s their extensive knowledge of the industry and the candidates; they also have a good sense in terms of identifying those high-calibre candidates, and they are extremely professional.

Q.) Where do you see your career journey taking you in the next five years?

A: I was brought into Whitbread to build the internal audit function and lift the organisation’s risk and control culture. For my next role, I’m quite open-minded – maybe a move into general management.

Q.) What advice do you have for candidates wanting to develop their career in internal audit or assurance more broadly?

A: Audit and assurance, by their nature, present different challenges almost on a daily basis and require strong, confident leadership. The more you can equip yourself with dealing with uncertainty, different situations and challenging stakeholders, the more effective you will become. Remain open-minded and curious and get a range of experience in different industries, companies, roles.

Experience, industry knowledge and the high calibre of clients has attracted Asif to IAC and kept his ongoing relationship with our team.

If you are in pursuit of internal audit recruitment expertise, contact Internal Audit Connections (IAC) today