The best way to find out what it's like to work at Audit Scotland is to meet the people who already do:
Senior Auditor, Audit Services Group
I joined Audit Scotland shortly after graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University. With a BA Honours in Accountancy, I applied to join Audit Scotland’s graduate trainee programme. I’m now a Senior Auditor and also volunteer as a mentor as part of the ICAS professional mentoring scheme.
Read more about Zahrah
I work across a range of audits, including those of councils, integrated health and social care joint boards and the Scottish Qualifications Authority. The work itself is very rewarding: no day or week is the same as the previous, and the services and public bodies we audit have a day-to-day impact on the lives of many people.
The project I’ve been involved in that I found the most interesting was auditing the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The Games were held in Glasgow, and as a Glaswegian I was seeing it in my home and all the hype around it. Then being part of that audit was just a really nice way to round it off.
One of the things I value about Audit Scotland is the flexibility to work in the ways that best suit you as an individual. And the support you get for you and the things that matter in your life, be that family, faith or volunteer work.
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.
Read more about Peter
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!
Trainee Auditor, Audit Services
I joined Audit Scotland in October 2017 after being offered a place on the graduate trainee scheme. When I saw the Audit Scotland job advert, I was struck by the unique opportunity to qualify as a chartered accountant while helping to hold Scottish public sector bodies to account. Three years later, and I’m an exam-qualified accountant and have had the opportunity to work on the audits of health boards, local authorities and central government bodies.
Read more about Euan
The breadth of experience that Audit Scotland can give you means that no two days are the same. The audit planning process allows you to get underneath an audited body’s operations and really understand what they do, and there’s a lot of interaction with client staff and getting to know what their day-to-day looks like. Final accounts is the busy part of the audit and gives you the chance to use your technical knowledge – it’s definitely the most rewarding part of the job as the accounts get signed off which is always a mix of happiness and relief!
Not coming from an accounting background, I was initially worried about being able to get through ICAS and pass the exams. Now that I’m on the other side, there was no need to be concerned as having a non-related degree doesn’t make a difference and our trainees come from all walks of life.
As well as the statutory audit work, trainees are encouraged to get involved in other areas of the organisation. I sit on the Stonewall Working Group which aims to ensure our LGBTQ staff are supported as much as possible, and to ensure Audit Scotland is a champion for equality and diversity.
Trainee Auditor, Audit Services
I applied for a modern apprenticeship at Audit Scotland at a time when I was evaluating what I wanted to do with my life. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) as a teenager, and after a short period at university I had decided to focus on starting my career.
From my interview at Audit Scotland through to my daily work, I’ve received the support I’ve needed to do my job as comfortably as possible, and to work towards my vocational qualification. There’s never been any fuss about my needs or requests, and my line manager has been extremely helpful.
Read more about Fiona
When the Covid-19 pandemic started and we all began working from home, Audit Scotland were quick to provide me with all the equipment I needed. I got an occupational assessment, monitor and chair, and I can work flexible hours which suits me as I prefer to start work early in the day.
Audit Scotland does so much to support colleagues with a disability. I’m now a member of an internal group that’s working to improve the lives of all colleagues with a disability or health condition – whether that’s physical or mental – and raises awareness across the organisation.
Senior 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.
Read more about Jillian
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.
Audit Manager, Audit Services Group
I joined Audit Scotland as a graduate trainee in 2008. The main attraction for me was the opportunity to contribute to the work of an organisation that had (and still does) such positive impact on the public sector in Scotland. Audit Scotland offered me a good opportunity to train and gain a professional qualification while getting valuable on-the-job experience with incredibly supportive colleagues. Even now, years after qualification, I find that my learning continues to broaden as the nature of the work that I do evolves.
Read more about Inire
Over the years, I have gained experience across the central government, health and local government sectors, and have worked on some high profile audits including the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body as well as some really interesting and complex audits such as NHS National Services Scotland. There is a lot of hard work and detail that goes into each piece of audit work and a great sense of fulfilment when the audits are signed off.
The work that I do on any day will depend on the stage of the audit that we are on and the client as well. On a typical day, I could be coaching and supervising junior colleagues, reviewing their work or discussing emerging issues at clients with senior colleagues and professional support. The culture at Audit Scotland is one that encourages you to give your best and continue to improve how we work.
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.
Read more about Tarryn
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.
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.
Read more about Ross
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.