We interviewed International Master in Finance alumna Lais Souza Schröder to find out what advice she had for graduates looking to get into auditing. Lais is originally from Brazil, and holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Affairs from Florida International University in the U.S. She has worked in auditing since graduating from EADA and recently accepted a position as Senior Internal Auditor at Moody’s Corporation in Germany.
Tell us a bit about your current responsibilities at Moody’s.
The Internal Audit Department at Moodys consists of 3 different teams: operational, IT and Financial Audits. I am part of the Financial Audit team. My team is mainly focused on SOX audits, which are essential for investors and regulating bodies, as they show that our financial reporting discloses the fair value. As a senior auditor, I am responsible for leading areas allocated to me, which involves frequent contact with the stakeholders and the entire team to ensure the corporation is reporting the correct numbers.
What is the most rewarding part of your current position?
As an auditor, you are exposed to every single area of the business, which is both a great way to see what you are truly passionate about, and a great way to show your potential across the company. Some people are lucky enough to know exactly what they want, but for other people (like me), auditing gives you an opportunity to work in different areas like sales, accounting and CFO.
How did EADA prepare you for your career after graduation?
EADA gave me the opportunity –and the tools– to develop both personally and professionally. For example, the final project was one of the biggest challenges, beginning with working in a diverse group of students with different backgrounds to reaching a consensus about the project focus and developing the skills to excel. Just like in the professional world, you need to work together to succeed by learning each team member’s strengths and weaknesses. The exposure to different cultures and diverse teams throughout the programme gave me an edge and prepared me to work in multinational companies.
What aspects of what you learned at EADA to do you use in your day-to-day at work?
In my current position, I deal with stakeholders on a weekly basis, so I use what I learned about financial reporting, accounting, risk management, and even presentation skills. At EADA, we were required to present projects to our classmates and faculty regularly, which helped me build strong communication skills – today, I am able to present my results in a concise manner in the professional world.
What qualities are the most important for someone in your position?
Apart from having the required knowledge, you have to be humble enough to understand that the person on the other side of the table will have more knowledge and more experience than you. We are always dealing with specialists, and we come in and tell them that something is wrong. It takes a very special skill to make the other side understand why we care and why something should be changed.
What advice would you offer to graduates who want to develop their career in auditing?
You should be aware of all the travelling that it involves. I know it sounds great, but it is not as great as it sounds. You will always be on the road, you will be dealing with challenges both at work and in the destination city, and you will be away from your family and friends.
My second piece of advice is that you must be prepared to face professionals at the highest levels of the companies that you work with – and you should not intimidated by their titles. When you know that there is something wrong, you have to stick to the standards as set by the IIA (Institute of Internal Auditors) and maintain your independence.
How would you describe your transformation at EADA?
Before EADA, I had a really hard time speaking in public and making my thoughts flow, but now I have gained the tools to ensure that I am prepare for these situations. In my current position, I am regularly required to speak in front of groups of people when we present our observations to management.
You have several years of experience in auditing. How important are soft skills for professionals in this sector?
Soft skills are vital in my line of business. Knowledge is very important, but as auditors, we must interact daily with all levels of the hierarchy of an organisation, and if you do not have soft skills, your audience will not collaborate or accept your recommendations.
Are you in contact with any other participants from your year?
I have kept in touch with many of my classmates, and I met my best friend at EADA. I also worked with several EADA students at my first job after graduation, and I have kept in touch with the good friends I met during my time at EADA.
How do you think the increasing presence of women in finance will change the sector?
There is some stigma regarding women and finance, but today’s world gives us a voice and the power to try to challenge the status quo. However, women must demonstrate that we are deserving of our place in the industry. We can be very passionate in all that we do, and I feel like that type of behaviour can be very positive in the world of finance, where power and money can sometimes speak louder than reason.