Think internal auditors are just like Big Brother? Think again. Hear from Paris-based Arnault Brunet, Head of Audit, Compliance and Insurance.
Why Rémy Cointreau?
Rémy Cointreau had what I was seeking. First, I was looking for a small-to-medium-sized company, not an international giant (not necessarily my cup of tea). Second, I wanted to join a family-owned company with a positive atmosphere and a sense of belonging that is not solely profit-driven. Third, I wanted a company in which I was not talking to numbers, I was talking to individuals: individuals who share a passion and like working together. Lastly, the product itself. Craftsmanship had to be in the vocabulary. I strongly believe that we stay true to tradition and remain as authentic as possible at Rémy Cointreau. When we say that something is made in Cognac or Barbados, it is true.
What does your role entail?
Identifying risks and how to work through them—such as accounting standards, asset protection and new regulations on data protection, which impacts the way we handle and store information. We’re a luxury company, so we need to assure that whatever we do, we’re good at it. People hold you to a higher standard: from a labor, regulation and work quality point of view.
Key qualities needed?
Naturally, there are technical skills: understanding the law and general regulations and how business evolves. But anyone can have technical skills. Soft skills are the most difficult to find. Aside from basic finance knowledge, you need social skills: to be a good listener and observer: open, accessible and relatable, so people can easily approach you.
You also need to understand how to translate these into business interactions. Simplifying complex concepts requires creativity and innovation. Moreover, you have to be curious, as you’ll observe how things work. And you need to be able to treat everyone equally, assuring they understand that you respect what they do.
How is audit viewed by your colleagues?
Audit is typically seen as being hard and dry. We have to tell people, “If you don’t follow the rules, I’ll be forced to write you up.” So, yes, people often view internal audit as an inside-the-office cop or like Big Brother, which is not entirely true. Yes, we say that what you do does not follow the process, etc., but we’re all in the same company. The end goal is the same, so I’m more of a business partner than the bad guy. It helps when people see you as an ally, but if you want them to come to you, you have to be approachable.
What’s it like to work at Rémy Cointreau?
Full of surprises. The company is evolving. The strategy is evolving, and our portfolio is evolving. It’s a very warm company. I am always happy to see my colleagues, many of whom have become my friends.
Rémy Cointreau cocktail of choice?
Depends on the mood. If it’s a sunny, summer day, a Cointreau Fizz. If I’m at a party with friends, a Gin and Tonic with The Botanist. For an evening in, a Rémy Martin Manhattan or a Port Charlotte Islay whisky.
Please drink responsibly.