Jindal School Student Wins International Internal Audit Research Award

Lance Giles with Professors Mauriello and Salamsick

Jindal School student Lance Giles (left) picked up his Esther R. Sawyer Research Award at The IIA international conference in New York in July in the company of Joseph Mauriello (center), Center for Internal Auditing Excellence Director, and Mark Salamasick, former center director.

The ability to navigate constant change in business is critical to career success in the internal auditing profession, which is tasked with creating value and improving operational success in rapidly changing global markets. A student from the Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas understands the concept so well that he won an international award explaining it.

Lance Giles, a student seeking degrees in both the MS in Accounting and MS in Information Technology and Management programs, won the Esther R. Sawyer Research Award for his submission on the 2016 award topic, “Achieving and Maintaining Professional Competency as an Internal Auditor in a High-Change Environment.”

According to Giles, the most critical competencies for success in internal auditing are intrinsic. In his view, courageous integrity, high emotional intelligence and excellent critical thinking provide a competitive advantage to people who pursue the profession.

“I personally believe that people need a foundation of moral character on which to build before they can honestly make a lot of decisions with confidence,” he said. “That holds true whether it’s an ethical decision, or whether it’s one based on other priorities.”

Held annually, the Sawyer Award competition is worldwide and open to undergraduate and or graduate students enrolled in internal auditing at an Internal Auditing Education Partnership (IAEP) university. The award netted Giles a $5,000 scholarship funded by the Internal Audit Foundation. Another $3,000 went to the Jindal School’s Center for Internal Auditing Excellence to be used for scholarships. Giles was honored with an inscribed plaque at The Institute of Internal Auditors’ 75th annual international conference, held July 17-20 in New York. He received free registration and travel expenses to attend.

Giles says he is very grateful to The IIA for having received the Sawyer Research Award “to further my own education and give back to the prestigious Internal Audit Education Program (IAEP) at UT Dallas.” He also thanks Center for Internal Auditing Excellence Director Joseph Mauriello and former director Mark Salamasick (now executive director of academic audit in the UT System Audit Office) for their inspiration in helping him “achieve excellence in my education and profession.”

This was the fourth time that a student from the Jindal School has prevailed in the research competition, which was established in 2000 in memory of Sawyer, who was an advocate for internal audit curricula in colleges and universities and promoted internal auditing as a lifetime career. Past Jindal School winners garnered awards in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

Mauriello spoke about how methodical and thoughtful Giles is.

“He is a very fascinating individual,” Mauriello said. “I wrote him a recommendation letter recently where I basically indicated the fact that, if there’s any one student that I would put out there, Lance is the bellwether, the model graduate we would have.”

While completing his master’s degrees, Giles works full time for the Defense Contract Audit Agency, providing compliance assurance to the U.S. Department of Defense. Future plans include “transitioning from compliance assurance to technology assurance and strategy within an internal audit activity.”

He also plans to obtain Certified Internal Auditor and Certified Information Systems Auditor certifications and to become “an instructor at a local university to inspire and coach the next generation of internal auditors.”

Giles offered career advice to those students considering going into a field in which they may be confronted with ethical dilemmas on a daily basis.

“You need to understand that having a consistent picture of yourself is important, with all the social media available, when you’re talking with a bunch of recruiters,” he said. “When you get letters of recommendation, you want to provide a consistent portrayal of who you are and what you’re capable of.”

He also recommended that interested students attend meetings of the UT Dallas Institute of Internal Auditors Student Chapter, which is dedicated to promoting careers in assurance, consulting, IT auditing and fraud examination. “They’re phenomenal,” he said. “The caliber of people, whether it’s the TAs, students or the professionals with whom they’ll be networking — it’s just a fantastic group of people.”