Career Center: Just Starting Out
Mohammad Shehab, CFE
Audit Manager in the Internal Audit Office
American University of Beirut
The financial auditing responsibilities at a university are not just limited to doing what is in the best interests of the students and faculty. According to Mohammad Shehab, CFE, Audit Manager at the American University of Beirut (AUB), the responsibility extends to visiting scholars and accreditors, as well. In an environment that requires continuous reviews and standards, Shehab uses his CFE training and education to ensure AUB remains on the forefront of educational institutions.
Please describe your function (a day in the life).
I am an Audit Manager at the American University of Beirut founded in 1866, the first American University established outside the U.S. The university's operating budget is $300 million and services 9,000 students, 5,000 employees and a 350-bed medical center, which we are planning to expand to a 600-bed medical complex by 2020. One can imagine the number of operations and challenges our university deals with. I assist the university auditor in planning and managing the activities of the Internal Audit Office, as well as evaluate internal controls relating to the safeguarding of university assets. I conduct and lead fraud investigations, and provide guidance on risk management, fraud risk assessments and the implementation of internal controls.
How has earning the CFE credential benefited you in your career?
I'm proud to say that as a CFE, I am recognized as a proficient practitioner. The university is committed to ethical conduct and governance, and on a monthly basis we issue an Institutional Integrity and Continuous Improvement report. The report, which is made available to the public, recognizes the importance of having a CFE on board to continuously monitor fraud risks.
What trends are you currently seeing in fraud investigations? Do you see any trends specific to your region?
I think the current trends apply to all regions. Economic pressure is increasing, and people who would not even consider or believe that fraudulent/unethical acts might help them solve financial problems, are now more under pressure to do so.
What specific challenges do you face working in higher education, as opposed to the private sector?
As an academic community, the university sets rigorous standards for scholarship and self-assessment that are typical of any institution of higher learning. Programs and departments are subject to periodic external review by visiting scholars to ensure their vigorous growth and renewal, and the university itself applies for accreditation to outside international bodies for confirmation of its relevance and academic rigor.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to follow a similar career path?
Trust is not a control, stand fast and question everything until you are satisfied with the answers.
What do you consider your greatest career achievement?
The ability to influence change. Eventually when you see that your work has made a difference, you will then know that you’ve achieved something.
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