The best way to find out what it's like to work at Audit Scotland is to meet the people who already do:
Tarryn Wilson-Jones, Senior Auditor, Audit Services Group
When I saw Audit Scotland’s advertisement for graduate trainees, I saw a great way to apply my analytical skills whilst at the same time learn about the world of public finance. The more I learned about Audit Scotland’s ethos of safeguarding public money and the values of independence and integrity, the more I wanted to work here. Everyone believes that not only does our work have an impact in holding bodies in the public sector to account but it also helps them to improve.
Audit Scotland has offered a supportive and dynamic environment to train, and having qualified and been promoted to Senior Auditor, I have found that my learning has deepened as the nature and breadth of the work is more complex and interesting.
I’ve been involved in audits across the three sectors of health, local and central government. The range of audit bodies means that there are great opportunities to take on more responsibility at smaller clients, and lead on audits, coach junior colleagues, draft audit reports and present reports at audit committees.
Audit for me is a bit like an adventure. One sets off with a roadmap but things don’t always happen as one planned or predicted. Audit is an intellectual enquiry into the unknown as you don’t know what technical skills you will use or the issues you’ll come across. Once an issue is identified, it’s about understanding the underlying problem and exercising judgement to balance problem-solving with recommendations that the client can practically implement. I enjoy this aspect of intellectual enquiry and problem-solving the most.
A typical day involves coaching and supporting a trainee on a specific piece of work, meeting with the client and asking questions about the area of work, evaluating client responses in the context of the audit, documenting this and forming a view on the area. It also involves discussing my view with colleagues where the area is more complex. I also feedback back issues to the client for their view and response and make recommendations in draft reports, where appropriate.
Peter Worsdale, Audit Manager, Performance Audit and Best Value
I was attracted by Audit Scotland's good reputation, and the opportunity to contribute to its high profile public role. My job here seemed to follow naturally from my previous business improvement role in the public sector. Working in PABV in Audit Scotland means you also have to see the bigger picture of how organisations are working to improve the lives of people in Scotland. And developing clear findings on how well they do this is a challenging process.
All audits are different. They may examine specific issues in detail, or take a broad look across a whole sector such as health or local government. Some audits can take you to fairly remote locations or cover a wide geographic area. One of my first audits was in Shetland – this gave me an insight into the different issues facing island councils, and not least the challenges of getting there in winter!
One of the most intensive parts of the job is the planning and preparation needed before going on-site. Another pressure point is preparing for the media release once we have made our findings – we can never be sure what details the press will pick up on or what angle they will take. We do our best to manage this, working with our media and communications teams to convey our messages and to anticipate what questions we may be asked. This is always an interesting process – and who knows - one day you may end up on Newsnight!
Ross Hubert, Auditor, Audit Services Group
I joined Audit Scotland in October 2011, after being accepted on to their Professional Qualification Scheme.
The main attraction for me was the opportunity to build my career with an independent and influential public body but an additional incentive was the chance to become a CA with ICAS which would provide me with an internationally recognised qualification that would be highly portable should my career ideas or life plans change in the future.
I have always enjoyed investigating and analysing new things, something that I get to do regularly as part of my job as an auditor. For each audit area or audited public body you need to quickly build a thorough understanding of what is going on, which for some organisations is not immediately straightforward.
The challenging aspect of my work is then trying to reflect these complexities in a report which is sharp, concise and understandable to a wide variety of readers.
Over my time I have worked on a number of audits mainly involving the Scottish Government. I have had the opportunity to be involved in work examining the further devolution of financial powers to Scotland – something that I have found fascinating. It is a complicated and fast moving environment and one that is inviting a great deal of comment from across the political landscape.
It has been interesting trying to keep on top of all of it – making sure that you have considered all the angles before coming to a judgement.
Jillian Matthew, Audit Manager, Performance Audit and Best Value
I was attracted to Audit Scotland by the opportunity to work in a national, high profile organisation and to help public services to improve. I enjoy the variety of the work and interaction with different people within the organisation and externally, within the public bodies we audit and the Scottish Parliament where we present our national reports.
There isn’t really a typical day at Audit Scotland. You can come into work thinking you know what lies ahead and then something can come completely out of the blue that you have to deal with that can turn your whole day around. Some of the main activities my job entails are interviewing, background reading and research, analysing and making judgements on complex analysis, and report writing. Generally I work in Edinburgh and spend periods of time travelling around Scotland depending on the stage of a project.
Delivering projects on time, to quality and budget can be challenging. One of the most interesting and challenging audits I’ve worked on is a review of how patients are managed on NHS waiting lists across Scotland. It was a high profile audit that received a lot of media attention. We had to quickly respond to an area of concern and provide assurance to the Scottish Parliament and the public, and recommend areas for improvement.
People may be surprised to know we’re not all accountants at Audit Scotland, although a good understanding of public sector finance is essential. Our staff come from a variety of backgrounds from the public sector, research organisations and wider, which means there is a wide breadth of experience and knowledge across the organisation. The environment here is hard-working, yet with flexible working arrangements. Our audit work is constantly developing and evolving to reflect the external environment.
An award winning employer
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The Healthy Working Lives (HWL) award is a NHS initiative designed to help create a safer, healthier and happier workforce. We were awarded a Bronze award in 2014 for our approach to supporting wellbeing.
We are committed to equal opportunity and to a culture that respects difference. As an employer and public body, and in our audit role, we can play a leading part in the promotion and application of best practice in the areas of Diversity and Equality. As users of the disability symbol, we guarantee to interview all disabled applicants who meet the vacancy minimum criteria. The general level of competence is set out in the job description/person specification of each individual vacancy profile.
The Best Companies survey is a well-established, highly regarded independent professional survey which includes companies and public bodies across the UK. We are proud to say that Audit Scotland has retained the Best Companies’ ‘One to Watch’ status.
Audit Scotland has been accredited as a Living Wage Employer and welcomed to the Living Wage community.
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