Return of the Jedi (auditor)

Sometimes, people make mistakes. Recognizing when it happens and moving decisively to fix the situation is an important life skill, I think.

Three years ago, I left a building materials company to start work for a Canadian retail company. At the time, I thought it was a good move for my career. The Canadian retailer was based in Toronto and I thought there would be opportunities to move up or laterally. I assumed that the culture, at least within the internal audit department, would be similar to the team I was leaving.

I was wrong. The culture of the department, and the company, was very different. I think it has something to do with the industry, and probably the centralized structure. But whatever it was and in what proportions, it wasn’t a place where I felt like I fit in.

This is why pencils have erasers, people. Back in August, I returned to the building materials company and the first internal audit team I ever knew. And so far, it’s been like I never left.

Let this be a lesson to never burn your bridges! I kept in touch with several colleagues via email and Facebook over the years, and when I finally decided to go for it, they were able to refer me to the relevant people who could get the ball rolling.

So, in conclusion, you can go home again. And I did.

12/19/13 Update: HBR says Never Say Goodbye to a Great Employee!

6 thoughts on “Return of the Jedi (auditor)

  1. Hi Neil,

    First off – great blog/website. Anyways, in regards to you going back to the company you left, I had a few questions was hoping to gain some insight from you:

    1) How long did you feel this way before finally pulling the trigger?

    2) Was there any specific event/incident that was the tipping point for you to make the decision?

    3) How is your experience so far in your old company? Was it weird coming back or did they accept you with open arms?

    I am just curious as I feel like I’m in the same situation as you – I left my previous company not because I hated it, but because I thought the new company I was stepping into would be a good move – and like you, I feel like I don’t fit in properly and the career opportunities here are more limited than I originally though. Therefore, I am contemplating on going back to my previous company where I was happy with my progress etc.

    Would love to hear your response – cheers bud.

    – Mystery CA :)

  2. 1) I was generally unhappy for the better part of a year I think.
    2) Yes, there was a tipping point. I don’t want to say too much, but it was a special project outside the normal duties of our IA department.
    3) I thought it might be weird, but honestly it totally hasn’t been at all. It’s been like I never left. I think part of that is because there is a lot of travel, so I was closer originally to a lot of them. And the folks who joined in the intervening period have been great too!

  3. Great thanks for the response above.

    I noticed you stayed at the previous job for 3 years first before making the move back – is it cause you started not to like the job in the last year? or would you say the unhappiness grew gradually over the years?

    Just wondering what your insight is – it’s been just over a year at my new place and part of me wants to give it some more time to see if these thoughts will slowly go away. I’m not sure if one year is enough time to assess whether or not I’m truly happy with my current position/company.

  4. I thought I’d responded to this already!

    Unhappiness grew gradually, yes.

    All situations are different, no doubt. Impossible to say without the benefit of hindsight whether you should stick it out longer or not!

  5. Great post Neil!

    One of my close friends is pondering over the decision and has a few hiccups about the move. She has a few questions and would love to hear what you have to say:

    1) What kind of a jump in salary should she negotiate/expect? She is currently a new senior at a big 4.

    2) She is going into I.A. retail for a large Canadian retailer as well and is concerned about the nationwide travelling. How was it for you? Did your past company make it any easier on you with perks?

    3) What’s the culture like? Does everyone dread facing Internal Auditors i.e. poor team culture?

    Thanks for your help : ) !!!

  6. Hi Cathy,

    1) No clue on the salary. Ask for the most you think you can reasonably get!

    2) There wasn’t a significant travel component for me. I didn’t do store audits, just operational audits of head office or distribution centre functions. There are perks when you travel a lot, but they’re from airlines, hotels and rental car companies.

    3) I’m not sure which place you’re asking about. Culture was very different at each place, based on the type of individual that each environment attracts, in my opinion. Generally no one likes being audited, so there’s probably a level of dread everywhere. But the good IA departments are better at cultivating better relationships with clients!

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