From humble beginnings working as a menswear fashion designer, Dr. Gloria Carter has worked her way up to become a successful auditor and managing director of her own business. The Auditor Online speaks to Carter to learn the secret of her success.
Carter was first introduced to auditing while working in clothing, textile, and footwear when her role evolved to quality assurance officer with the responsibility of ensuring the quality of 2,000 units on a daily basis.
Carter flourished in the quality assurance and auditing area, and her career has been on an upward trajectory ever since. In 1993 Carter became the managing director of her own business, Internal Marketing & Development Systems. The business operates five arms, one of which is the Australian Centre for Standards and Compliance, which sub-contracts to certification bodies for ISO-related auditing.
“Auditing has always been part of my work, whether it was in the clothing, textile, and footwear industry, or later in government administration,” Carter says.
She believes auditing presents unique opportunities, including meeting new people and observing the way businesses operate—two things Carter is passionate about.
“You meet exceptional people, and see their processes designed and implemented,” Carter says. “The real test of whether a management system is really working is if you can see a continual improvement in their practice and evidence of records.
“Being an auditor also opens your mind to thinking outside the box.
“In a recent audit I was looking at ISO 9001:2015 and it made me think differently about how to apply the standard in their organization and how that then mapped into their professional systems.
“I actually put it in a spreadsheet and compared 2008 to 2015 so that I could come up with the findings I needed against 2015. I looked at it from the business’s perspective and thought, if it was non-compliant in 2008, should it also be noncompliant in 2015? I spoke with a review panel twice to make sure we were all on the same page and make sure I wasn’t being too rigid in my thinking.”
With more than 40 years of auditing experience across both internal and external applications, Carter says she is naturally suited to the role of auditor.
“It is evident by my personal satisfaction and comments made by clients,” Carter says. “I value holding current knowledge, registration, and practices. Not just as an auditor but also as a professional practitioner, which can be transferred to corporate clients to improve their business.”
Like many professionals, Carter holds numerous qualifications across bachelor, master and doctoral levels in areas including business, career guidance, disability, education, environmental management, and work health and safety. Part of Carter’s study included designing multiple integrated management systems for corporate clients.
Carter continually updates her occupational and professional qualifications, and is currently completing a Diploma of Work Health and Safety through SAI Global.
“VET sector qualifications only have a duration of five years, so every five years practitioners must upgrade their vocational competencies,” Carter says. It’s the same with auditing. Auditor study is only as good as the duration of a particular standard, so you always have to upgrade to the next standard; it’s just a constant.
“My qualifications gave me the theory, attitude, and practical skills to understand holistically about quality, safety, environment, food safety, and industry standards including aviation, business management, education, health, and manufacturing.”
While many professionals struggle to find the motivation to complete study, Carter juggled motherhood, caring for her dying husband, work, and study.
“At times I juggled four part-time jobs and had about three hours sleep a night,” Carter explains. “In hindsight, it was all worth it.”
Carter has some advice for auditors striving for success, the first being: not to compromise your professional integrity.
“There are so many influences out there, whether it’s other organizations you have worked for, the audit client, people working in your organization, or other consultants who try to influence you to lower your standard of professional integrity,” Carter says. “You must maintain your professional integrity above all else.”
The second piece of advice is to remain current.
“It doesn’t matter what discipline you are involved with, it’s really important to keep up to date with the vocational aspect,” Carter explains. “Whether it’s refreshing your qualifications or doing master classes throughout your career, it’s critical to stay current.
“The third thing is to focus on your actual practice and make sure you are getting enough exposure to the industry or the standards you would like to specialize in. Finally, professional registration.
“Professional registration is important because it gives you the tick as a professional to endorse that you are knowledgeable, have the right attitude, and capability. Exemplar Global is one registration body that I am certified with, along with several industry associations, separate from auditing.”