Claire Malcolm on Secondment with Scottish Government

Claire Malcolm from the Turks & Caicos Internal Audit Office recently undertook a secondment with the Scottish Government as part of the UK Overseas Territories Project. She writes about her experiences below.

To be approached by the Chief Internal Auditor (CIA), Head of the Office of the Chief Internal Auditor (OCIA), of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG), and be offered a secondment opportunity by the United Kingdom Oversees Territories Project (UKOTP) was beyond my wildest dreams, especially being placed at the Scottish Government. 
I had mixed feelings about the experience. I felt excited, emotional and optimistic.  These feelings were due to this being my first time working in a different country and being away from my family for such a long time.  However, on taking up the offer, I began to think positively about what awaited, such as; new career possibilities, gaining alternative work experience while being employed, learning new skills, boosting my confidence and becoming a more valued team member. 
On my arrival at the Internal Audit Directorate, I was assigned to a Senior Internal Auditor Manager (SIAM) and her team, who were ready to assist and guide me. One of the first tasks for me was to  understand their Internal Audit Charter in order to make sure any work I carried out on the secondment was compliant with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards, the Chartered Institute of Internal Audit best practice, and making sure that I was aware and mindful of the UKOTP’s objectives.  
I also had to complete several online training courses to make sure that I was aware of various policies and procedures, including: Managing Information, Data Protection, Equality and Diversity Essentials, Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination, Health and Safety, Stress Management just to name a few which I had to pass to before I can could commence any audit work.  
On completion of the online courses, I was immediately involved with the team in several aspects of audits that were ongoing, such as; 

  • Attended an Audit Risk Committee (ARC) meeting  
  • Prepared an assurance map for the SIAM to present to an ARC meeting.
  • Prepared a briefing on the Three Lines of Defence Assurance Model for the SIAM to present to an ARC
  • Carried out audits relating to People Performance Monitoring and Organisational Development
  • Contributed to the completion of the Risk Based Internal Audit Plan for 2020-21
  • Prepared an analysis of the common areas of Memorandum of Understanding between SIAM and Scottish Government Clientele 
  • Was also able to feed in approaches, where applicable, in comparison to those of TCIG 

I was also involved in performing Quality Assurance reviews on Internal Audit work on several public body clients to ensure audits were performed in accordance with the Scottish Government Internal Audit Manual -  As the Turks and Caicos Islands, Internal Audit Team (IAD), is aiming to develop its quality assurance processes.   
My experiences gained from this secondment are not only audit related but also how the public service as a whole can operate effectively, efficiently and smoothly.  
Observations as well as my participation in some key areas of daily/monthly  operations were:

  • Monthly conversations – which can be tied into Performance Appraisals (what went well and what could have been done better since the last monthly catch-up)
  • Away Day – a day away from the office setting which includes training and team building activities
  • Employee wellbeing – weekly catch-ups (to  ensure staff have a good work life and social life balance).

The skills and knowledge gained over the past four months will certainly not go to waste. On my return to the Turks and Caicos, I will share these experiences not only with (OCIA) but with key stakeholders to produce an effective, efficient and excellent TCIG brand. 
Thanks to the UKOTP’s team for this awesome experience and opportunity, it is worth the sacrifice.  The secondment is a fantastic investment for all counterpart managers as it  leads to networking of colleagues within the profession, and staff personal growth and development.