In November, Ali Jalali, an Iranian, was selected as the best auditor by the International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA).
IRCA is the world’s original and largest international auditor certification body.
Jalali, the Iran IQMS UK representative, explains about daily challenges and when audits go wrong.
Following is an interview with Jalali conducted by IRCA:
As a child I remember wanting to find a job that would be effective and productive, but by no means boring or repetitive. My profession as an auditor and lead tutor of IRCA accredited courses has lived up to that expectation and now I have a PhD in industrial engineering, MBA and MSC in metallurgical engineering and more than 1,200 days of auditing experience for ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 22000 and OHSAS 18001 under my belt. I currently live in Tehran and work as Iran Branch Director for certification body Direct Assessment Services (DAS), secretary and member of the board of Iran Standard Association, and also an active representative of IQMS UK in Iran, the approved organization by ITCA.
How auditors are viewed by other professions…
We’re viewed to have a certain prestige and our role is seen solely to be an inspector, but this is completely wrong. An inspector is a “yes or no man”, whereas an auditor investigates the system and submits comments in order to achieve added value.
The most exciting thing about my work…
Is getting to know the different kinds of industries, services, products, cultures and of course, people, from management representatives right through to top managers.
The six main challenges I face are…
1. Clients thinking documentation is more important than system implementation. It’s not, and as a result, the system becomes ineffective.
2. Employees with several years’ job experience not accepting ISO culture.
3. Those without knowledge of management standards confusing it with product standards.
4. Amateur auditors and fraudulent organisations issuing ISO certifications to the public without auditing through international rules.
5. Inconsistency in the training of auditors. For instance, one auditor may issue eight non-conformities, while in a similar situation another may not notice any.
6. Creating added value in the system while its importance is not considered by the public.
I’ll never forget…
Three particular auditing experiences that taught me everything I needed to know about the profession – the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good – eight years ago I was lead auditor at a manufacturing company in Shiraz. The management representative at the opening meeting told me he was so interested in meeting me and discussing the auditing program, that he bought a new, expensive suit just for the occasion.
The bad – five years ago I went to audit a wheat flour company and to my surprise, nobody knew they were being audited or that I was even coming. The whole thing was shocking and I was eventually refused access by security.
The ugly – I was lead auditor at a food production company where the top manager was a retired military colonel. One day prior to the audit, he called me and said that if I issue a non-conformity, he would straightaway fire the person responsible. At first I was shocked, but after a lot of thinking, I decided to change the title of ‘non-conformity’ to ‘opportunity for improvement’ (OFI) as a way of dealing with the situation. During the audit we discovered some OFIs, in particular the need to purchase an air conditioning unit for the administrative department due to hot temperatures, and a management representative told me afterwards that the colonel didn’t like the suggestion, as in his view, it was a factory, not a hotel.
If I wasn’t an auditor I’d be…
A trainer of management systems that help young staff develop into good, professional auditors.
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