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John (IIA)

The Partner

EduSport
Lusaka

EduSport Foundation is Zambia’s most prominent sports & community development NGO. It was founded in 1999 in response to identified gaps in opportunities for communities to participate in sport and for youth empowerment.

EduSport

The Volunteer

John (IIA) Name
John (IIA)
Employer
Grant Thornton
Position
Associate Director
John had always had an ambition to travel and use his accounting skills for a more worthwhile cause. He had qualified as an IIA member and was working at Grant Thornton when he moved to Australia and he thought this might be the perfect time to explore volunteering opportunities.
 
John approached AfID and was keen to understand how his skills could be best utilised. He decided on a placement in Zambia in Africa at a small local charity called EduSport; a prominent sports and community development organisation. It was founded in 1999 to boost the local community’s participation in sport and to use sporting projects to empower disaffected youth.
 
So, in 2011, John flew to Lusaka to begin his assignment. 
 
The Assignment Brief:
 
The focus of the assignment was to develop and enhance the accounting skills of the local finance team at Edusport. John was also to help with the development of the organisation’s financial management and reporting capacity to build better relations with their current donors and provide the assurance needed to attract new donor organisations.
 
Q: How did you add value?
 
A: I trained local staff in many accounting related matters, such as helping them maintain adequate accounting records, use accounting software, prepare budgets and monitor their cash flow effectively. In addition I helped I added value in the following ways:

·         Identifying financial risks and threats to the organisation
·         Producing policies and guidance to mitigate these risks
·         Providing admin and other office support
·         Training the team in  basic IT skills
·         Assisting with donor communications and  relations
·         Assisting with funding proposals and donor applications
·         Downloading and set up of IT software
·         Attending Edusports events and actively participating with their projects
 
Q: Did you find your IIA training and qualification was relevant?

A: Internal auditors specifically & systematically review systems and operations. These reviews (audits) are aimed at identifying how well risks are managed including whether the right processes are in place, and whether agreed procedures are being adhered to. Audits can also identify areas where efficiencies or innovations might be made. The nature of this work aids volunteers with an internal audit background as they have the skills to identify accounting systems and control gaps at the NGO and can train and support the local staff on how to fill these gaps. Much of the work I did in Africa drew on my IIA qualification and actually expanded on my experience. I had to identify risks, review and enhance accounting and operating environments and create policies to prevent issues arising in the future, including a disaster recovery plan.
 
Q: How was your internal audit training transferable in this field?

A: I think the answer to this could be for any professional training in internal audit, external audit, business services. Training within these fields gives you the following key and very transferable skills;

·         Strong analytical and critical thinking skills
·         Strong written and verbal communication skills
·         Good general IT skills
·         An appreciation of risk management
·         Business acumen/commercial reasoning which will assist with dealing with donors
 
During the training for internal audit/IIA/CA/ACCA/CPA there is a requirement to have 3 years practical experience with a professional services firm or in industry.  During this period you gain a strong knowledge of the above skills which I believe can help volunteers in the field to problem solve any issues that arise. 

Q: What’s the big difference between a commercial assignment and one of this nature? And what are the pros and cons to you, the volunteer.

A: The biggest difference between a commercial assignment and a volunteer assignment is difficult to pin point.  I suppose you have a more personal investment in a volunteer assignment and [you] are typically playing a lead role with minimal help, so need to get more involved/ hands on. 
Given you are motivated to do volunteer work from a personal perspective rather than being incentivised through a commercial role you probably don’t care stepping back down into the detail than if you were on a commercial assignment.  Depending on the nature of it, you may or may not be under as much time pressure as a commercial assignment.