EY Alumni Interview

EY Alumnus Interview: Maria Rogers, Head of Group Internal Audit at AIB

Over the last 20 years, the Banking industry has been through various changes and transformations from the global financial crisis, COVID-19 and now increases to the cost of living. Through these times Maria Rogers, Head of Group Internal Audit, Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and an alumnus of EY in Dublin has seen so many changes in the customer, economic, regulatory and industry landscape.

Maria joined AIB in 2006 from EY, just settling into her role when the global financial crisis hit in 2008. “It was a very difficult time for banks, the economy, for the world and Ireland was in a precarious situation. It made for challenging times, working through the impacts for both the bank and the wider economy of Ireland”

One of the characteristics that has helped on her career journey, is the ability to “embrace uncertainty” which she learned from her time at EY and subsequent experiences.

My instinct is to embrace certainty, but I have learnt that you must step away from that. Especially, when you are managing a diverse team, you must move away from certainty and embrace the situation to problem solve.
EY was Maria’s bridge between qualifying in accountancy and expanding into her career in AIB.

Maria started her career at AIB in the internal audit function, moving in 2016 to take up the position of Group Chief Compliance Officer. An exciting move, from the third to the second line of defence where she honed her trusting, empowering and inclusive leadership style.

Fast forward through the years of recovery post the global financial crisis to April 2020 and Maria started a new role at AIB as Head of Group Internal Audit. COVID-19 lockdowns were newly in place and the world was in a sense of unknown, however, she took these challenges and the uncertainties in her stride and still, three years later, relishes the role and the daily challenges.

Leadership is about agility,” she says. “This is what I learned about myself over the years, I relished the challenges of thinking quickly, reacting during uncertainty and adapting

Some of the credit for this agility she attributes to her early days with EY, where her abilities were encouraged. “I studied business, economics and social sciences at Trinity College Dublin, including a year studying French in Strasbourg. A few family members were Chartered Accountants and ended up in diverse and varied careers. That flexibility and opportunity that the CA professions offered, really appealed to me.”

Rogers trained in a small practice, which she remembers as “brilliant” because of the thorough grounding it gave in practical matters. It was largely pre-digital: “I’d be handling shoe boxes full of receipts, and you learn to appreciate what makes a business tick”. This, on top of the formal education in economics and business, combined to make her a strong contender for Big Four practice experience.

In 2001 she qualified. “I wanted Big Four experience, and EY really stood out from the first interview.” Also drawing her in were the people factor and overarching culture. “I was impressed by the development opportunities and culture from the get-go.”

During the next five years she progressed and expanded her reach, realising how much she enjoyed working with individual companies and honing her risk management skills. “It was the human experience I valued at EY,” she says. “There was great inclusivity, and I was given many great opportunities.”

On a personal note, Maria got something else from her time at EY. As well as a great professional and personal network, she met her ‘wonderful’ husband in EY and 20 years plus two kids later they are an expanded and strong team. Although no longer at the firm, her husband also works in internal audit elsewhere, however she says, they are strict about no shop talk around the family dinner table.

To relax, she spends her evenings and weekend outdoors supporting her kids at their GAA matches. Before the workday begins, she’s up early to power walk for an hour. “I absolutely love my job for the work that we do and the people I work with, you should enjoy your role and get satisfaction, fulfilment and purpose well as balancing your personal time”.

She thoroughly enjoyed all the roles she’s had at AIB, and Maria can clearly see the linkage between the role her team plays and the Bank’s purpose ‘there’s a great sense of purpose at the Bank, we are here to serve the needs of our customers with a great focus on key matters such as ESG - and that’s ‘really motivating and satisfying. A key part of my role is protecting customers’ interests, and we think about our customers constantly”. Her message to people starting or proceeding through their careers is to “trust, listen, learn.”

Senior leadership roles are not just necessarily about the skills you have, but the leadership you can give your team to empower, listen and support development. It’s vital that your team knows that you have their back.

Trust and teamwork are capabilities Maria took from her early days in Harcourt Street, and it contributes to lifelong lessons she gained from EY. “EY is a place where you are truly supported in your career, you are trusted to go out and do your job and supported by a great team”. This is something that Maria Rogers, as someone who appreciates challenges and loves to learn, has put into practice in her successful professional life.


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