What’s it like when young auditors from all over Europe come together? The NAO graduate blog has asked Jack Cook, a former trainee and now Audit Principal, to report from the recent Young EUROSAI Conference.

Participants at the Young EUROSAI Conference
I finished my training contract in September 2015, but whilst I was still a trainee I applied internally for the NAO’s place at the Young EUROSAI Conference and I was fortunate to get it.

What is Young EUROSAI? It’s a conference set up for young (under-35 year olds) members of European Supreme Audit Institutions (the state auditors) to share experiences, knowledge and new ways of doing things. This was the second conference ever held and was hosted by Israel in Jerusalem in November (EUROSAI rules of membership follow those of Eurovision, obviously, and so we are anticipating a random attendance from Australia pretty soon).

I arrived in Israel the night before the conference began and was given my welcome pack: “Welcome to the Young EUROSAI Conference. Here are the security risks, and here is your selfie stick. Regards, The State of Israel”. This was not going to be the sort of conference I had imagined.

The conference comprised various workshops from member states, as well as keynote speakers talking about Generation Y and networking. The Generation X presenter told us Generation Y were generally self-obsessed, had short attention spans and couldn’t make decisions. Naturally this went down really well with the Generation Y audience.

China flew in to give a 15min TEDTalk, and spoke about mobilising a team of 40,000 auditors (they have 88,000 auditors in their NAO…!) to carry out a report on pensions in China. The sheer scale of this blew my mind. If you think you’ve led a big team, think again…

As a 25-year-old, I was one of the younger attendees, but this didn’t get me out of giving a workshop on the UK model of accountability in government and an evening speech on the NAO and our work.

I really had my eyes opened about how the NAO is at the top of its field internationally, not only in terms of technical excellence, but on innovation too.

I spoke to other delegates about our work on financial impacts (saving the taxpayer £1.15bn in 2014-15), details about our open-plan hot-desking office in London, our internal and external use of social media (this blog, our internal blogs, internal forums, and NAO Ideas) and the way we are changing the way we do reports to make them more relevant and timely. On each subject we were leading the way.

I told them about our investigation into the government’s funding of Kids Company which my team produced in just 6 weeks. This compared to a normal timetable of up to 9 months for most of the NAO’s outputs and between 6 and 18 months for some other Supreme Audit Institutions’ outputs – we had some interesting discussions around relevance and timeliness of publications and how we can improve this to satisfy the rolling-news-coverage generation!

I felt incredibly privileged to be able to take part in an event such as this, and to have the sort of international exposure and experience which I wouldn’t get anywhere else but the NAO. The next conference is in 2017 in Estonia and you could be our next delegate!

Apply now!

Our 2016 graduate training scheme is now open to applications (deadline 31 January 2016). Head over to our graduate recruitment site for further information on how to apply.

If you’ve got any questions around the application process, please leave a comment below. You can also contact our recruitment team by email, via our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

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