Q&A with Jo Hughes who is studying to become a Certified Internal Auditor

We asked Jo Hughes, Internal Auditor, to tell us about her qualification journey to become a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) at the same time as carrying out a full-time job role: 

Please can you explain why you wanted to start this qualification?

I wanted to further advance my knowledge of internal auditing and gain a worthwhile qualification in the subject.   As my daughter was off to University, it was the perfect time to focus on my studies. 

As well as improving my knowledge, I felt that obtaining this professional qualification would contribute to supporting the business to achieve its objectives. Internal Auditors play a vital role in improving the business’s performance therefore advanced knowledge and experience is essential.

Tell us about The Institute of Internal Auditors?

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) is the only globally recognised qualification for internal auditing and the best way to demonstrate my knowledge, skills and competencies to carry out any internal audit. 

Which subject areas are you covering as part of this qualification?

There are three parts to the qualification, I have completed part one and I’m currently studying for part two.  It covers internal controls, risk, governance and technology and it’s in line with the IIA’s international standards. 

How easy was it to start this process with Orbit?

It was a very easy process as it was discussed with my manager during my one to ones and also my head of department, both agreed that this qualification would be beneficial to me, the Internal Audit team and for Orbit. The request was forwarded to the Academy Team who approved it within a couple of weeks.  All studying is carried out online and from home, in my own time.

What benefits will this qualification add to your career and to you personally?

There are huge benefits for the business as the studying has allowed me to stay up to date with the International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) and the required standards.  In turn, this has contributed to our Internal Audit team being independently assessed by the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) and in 2020 gained us the top rating in relation to our working practices and adherence to the IIA’s Professional Standards.

Personally, the knowledge I am picking up from my studies is enabling me to become more proficient in the practice of internal audit and my confidence, as an Auditor, has grown since embarking on the study programme.

Have there been many highs, lows, successes and challenges throughout the process?

At times it has been very challenging to return to studying whilst working full time.  Also, there are no classes, seminars or lecturers, it is all self-study! 

So, as anyone else who has studied whilst working knows too well, it can be very tiring, but with the right attitude, discipline and motivation it can be achieved.

Examination dates have been slightly affected due to the pandemic and the need to close the test centres, however the IIA now have the facility to provide the exams online so that students can complete them from home. 

My biggest success to date was achieving part one of the qualification.   I hope I can be as successful with parts two and three!

Have you got any anecdotes you would like to share?

The IIA deliver regular webinars to offer tips and advice on how to successfully complete the exams, each session has a prize draw at the end, but I haven’t won one yet…hopefully one day I will!

Also, I was told off by the test centre because I turned up far too early for my exam one morning, they hadn’t even opened their doors, therefore I had to wait outside in the cold and rain for them to open!  I think I was just too keen!


We try where possible to fund as many qualifications as possible through our central training budget and allocated apprenticeship levy, working with SMT’s to prioritise this investment. Please contact Andy Jones to discuss further if you’re interested in applying for Orbit funding to complete a professional qualification relevant to your role.

Keep an eye out for more stories like Jo’s over the coming months.