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Global Institute of Internal AuditorsBreadcrumb SeparatorNewsBreadcrumb SeparatorInternal Auditor Magazine Names 15 Emerging Leaders for 2020

​Internal Auditor Magazine Names 15 Emerging Leaders for 2020

Honorees define what it means to be tech savvy, agile

LAKE MARY, Fla. (Oct. 2, 2020) — Bringing innovation and a fresh perspective to their organizations around the world, 15 internal auditors from Bangladesh, Canada, India, Oman, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States are honored as this year’s “Emerging Leaders” by Internal Auditor, the premier, award-winning magazine published by The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA).

Ranging in age from 26 to 30 years old, the recipients are mastering internal audit processes and advanced audit engagements, and they are taking on highly complicated assignments and even starting internal audit functions in remote locations.

“Today’s emerging leaders are not intimidated by technology or complex data, nor are they satisfied with doing things ‘how they’ve always been done,’” said IIA President and CEO Richard F. Chambers, CIA, QIAL, CGAP, CCSA, CRMA. “They are fascinated by the unknown, critical in their thinking, and literally rewriting the rules of internal auditing. This year’s group illustrates a bright future that lies ahead for our profession, we congratulate each on this outstanding recognition.”

This year’s Emerging Leaders join an equally diverse group of more than 100 peers from over a dozen countries who have been recognized annually since the program began in 2013. They “extol internal audit’s access to all levels of an organization and its role in strategic planning,” according to the magazine, which is spotlighting each in the October issue, now available at

The 2020 Emerging Leaders are:

Nausheen Ahmed, CIA, 30
Deputy Manager, Internal Control and Audit
Marico Bangladesh Ltd., Dhaka, Bangladesh

After circumstances led to jobs outside internal audit, Nausheen Ahmed returned to the profession in 2018 and put her skills in business intelligence and financial analysis to work, revamping the company’s internal audit function, including a change from traditional reporting to an infographic approach. She was attracted to the profession by its dynamic opportunities, whether finance, marketing, supply chain management, business intelligence, or advisory work. Ahmed also is active with her local IIA affiliate, where she helps organize professional training events and mentors CIA candidates.

Michelle Brown, CFE, 26
Auditor II
Nielsen, Oldsmar, Fla.

Before starting in internal audit less than a year ago, Michelle Brown — who’s working toward her Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) credentials — pursued a sales career then worked as an external auditor for EY Media & Entertainment. Brown’s experience in big data and auditing from multiple perspectives made her “a next-generation internal auditor,” said supervisor Kevin Alvero, senior vice president for Internal Audit at Nielsen. Brown is a graduate of the University of South Florida.

Elizabeth Houska, CFE, 26
Senior Auditor
FedEx, Memphis, Tenn.

Elizabeth Houska excels at cultural relations and communication. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, she has led teams on audit projects in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. She is currently internal audit liaison with the FedEx Corporate Integrity & Compliance Department for ongoing anti-corruption compliance initiatives. She is also a Certified Fraud Examiner, is pursuing the CIA credential, and is active in her local IIA chapter.

Rachel Jurgens, CIA, CPA, CA, 27
Senior Manager, Risk Advisory
Deloitte LLP, Toronto, Canada

Rachel Jurgens has a long-held passion for people, culture, and business. Now, she also has a passion for internal auditing. “I thought it was simply compliance-focused. But it’s fast-paced, continuously evolving, and more exciting than I could have ever imagined.” Working in the public and private sectors to assess and manage workplace culture and conduct risk, Jurgens leads high-performance teams on U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act and government disclosure filing engagements. She’s a National Campus Recruiting Leader for the company, and national co-chair of its Pride Community.

Hassan NK Khayal, CIA, 26
Senior Consultant, Risk Advisory Services
Mazars, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Hassan NK Khayal’s journey in internal auditing began with undergraduate business administration coursework at American University in Dubai. Intrigued, and adept at mastering different industries, Khayal, who holds a certification in robotic process automation, has worked with clients in oil and gas, media, and wildlife and forest management. Khayal possesses strong communication skills, mentoring junior-level professionals who then show an above-average grasp of the profession and demonstrate superior job performance compared with their peers.

Kyra Li, CIA, PMP, 30
Director, Risk Consulting
Ontario (Canada) Lottery & Gaming

Kyra Li embodies the role of trusted advisor. With an enhanced understanding of the foundations of risk, she moved into an internal audit role with a rapidly growing professional services firm, enabling her to see further connections among internal audit, enterprise risk management, and business resilience. Now she leads a risk consulting team, which she says functions in an internal audit capacity but with an emphasis on advisory work.

Daniel Meyo, CIA, 29
Manager, Advisory Services–Risk
Grant Thornton LLP, Chicago

Daniel Meyo combines a big-picture approach with zeal for assessing the intricacies of an enterprise up close. At his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he took an accounting class focused on internal controls, and realized “I really enjoyed the thought of taking on a role that would allow me to analyze how a business operates and addresses risk.” Meyo has been global manager for all 130 member firms in Grant Thornton’s internal audit practice network, and he trains and mentors new employees at the firm.

Amber Morgan, CIA, 29
Management Auditor II
City of Anaheim, Calif.

After graduating from Chapman University, Amber Morgan turned a summer internship at the accounting firm KMJ Corbin & Co. into a job that gave her experience in financial statement audits for publicly traded companies and nonprofits in multiple industries. After KMJ, she moved to local government internal auditing, obtaining experience in public safety, contracts and procurement, finance, and public utilities. “She does not consider her work just a job,” says colleague Lisa Monteiro, senior management auditor for the City of Anaheim. “She has a genuine interest in the overall betterment of the local government auditing field.”

Alec Palmer, CIA, 29
Senior Manager
Protiviti, Houston

Alec Palmer practices internal auditing often on short notice. Recent engagements include managing more than 20 contractors across multiple projects for a consumer products and services client. He shepherded reconciliation of 900 high-risk balance sheet accounts in two months and reviewed 1,200 such reconciliations in 10 weeks. “Procedures can certainly change when dealing with a higher-risk account,” says the Texas A&M University graduate.

Shruthi Ramakrishnan, 27
Internal Audit Lead
Atlas Air Worldwide, New York

Shruthi Ramakrishnan’s strength is in her ability to adapt. She is both pursuing the CIA and becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), with a keen understanding of the relationship between key risks, systems, processes, and controls, while emphasizing data analytics. She says she is disappointed by surveys showing how many departments still struggle to develop formal methodologies for integrating data analytics into their work. “I believe using it should be one of the priorities to build a next-gen internal audit function.”

Stephanie Robberson, CISA, 29
IT Senior Associate
Stinnett & Associates, Oklahoma City

Stephanie Robberson came to internal auditing by way of anthropology, her major at Baylor University. She planned to become a museum curator, but found she lacked passion for that specific goal, and a forensic anthropology field school shifted her sights toward an advanced degree in forensic science. Now pursuing a CIA, she says she loves “that there is always something new to learn, especially in the IT realm.” She boasts 3,000 hours of internal audit projects under her leadership and developed IT onboarding training for new hires that now is used to feed firmwide training.

Thokozani Sihlangu, 30
Audit Manager
Absa Bank, Johannesburg, South Africa

Thokozani Sihlangu says he knew he wanted to be an internal auditor when he was only 12, taking courses “aligned to this dream.” Sihlangu, a Nelson Mandela University graduate, joined IIA–South Africa, Johannesburg Region, during his third year of study and developed a greater passion for the profession. He is helping Absa Bank meet the unique challenges of working in the pandemic and is involved in efforts toward an increased focus on fraud risk assurance and leveraging the use of cutting-edge technology. Sihlangu is pursuing both the CIA credential and an MBA degree.

Sony Tharayil, 29
Regional Internal Audit Manager – Asia Pacific
Travelex, Muscat, Oman

Described as passionate, resilient, and curious, Sony Tharayil is credited with creating Travelex’s first comprehensive risk and control matrix. Additionally, the audit reporting and audit follow-up methodologies and templates she developed are now used globally in the Travelex internal audit function. Tharayil, who’s pursuing the CIA, is leading the company’s Internal Audit Methodology Transformation Program and implementation of a comprehensive quality assessment process. And she set up and now manages Travelex’s internal audit function in Oman.

Bonnie Tse, CIA, CISA, CPA, PMP, 27
Internal Audit Manager
T-Mobile, Seattle

Bonnie Tse is said to focus on “solutioning,” striving “to look at problems from different angles,” says her supervisor. Tse has accounting degrees from the University of Washington and the University of Southern California and has earned the CIA, CISA, CPA, and Project Management Professional credentials. At T-Mobile, she says she sees “a lot of opportunities for auditors to leverage robotic process automation to reduce the number of low-level repetitive tasks, so they can focus on the more interesting and value-adding aspects.”

Michael Zumbano, CIA, 26
Assistant Vice President; Audit Supervisor, Corporate Audit
Bank of America, Wilmington, Del.

An internship in a bank’s internal audit department proved pivotal for Michael Zumbano. “Working on different teams has really helped shape who I am.” On Bank of America’s automation team, he helped develop SQL code to drive continuous controls testing of full populations and to provide actual reperformance of system logic rather than reviewing business results, honing his data analytic skills. Now on the Data Quality Audit team, he helps assess how data is managed across functions. “I’ve developed a true passion for data.”

Emerging Leaders must be a member of The IIA and have, or be working toward, The IIA’s Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification. They are selected by a panel of distinguished internal auditors, including members of The IIA Global Board of Directors, who evaluate nominations detailing each individual’s performance in the areas of business acumen and leadership, service to the profession, community service, and innovative thinking.

For more on this year’s Emerging Leaders, please see the October issue of Internal Auditor magazine at

Media Contact

John Babinchak

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