Dr Claudelle von Eck, IIA SA CEO and UJ alumna, strives to 'live her purpose' every day
For Dr von Eck, her position offers the opportunity to serve the country by ensuring that internal auditors add value to their organisations. Under her leadership, the Institute of Internal Auditors South Africa (IIA SA) has grown to become the second largest institute in the world.
She started her journey at the IIA SA as the COO in 2006, when she made history as the first woman of colour to be appointed. Glass ceilings and stereotypes were broken once again in 2010, when she stepped into the position of Chief Executive Officer. Although she is neither an auditor nor an accountant, her long list of accomplishments include a BA in Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand, a diploma in Business Management from the Institute of Administration and Commerce, an MBL degree from the Unisa School of Business Leadership and, of course, a doctorate in Leadership from UJ. The varied academic pathway – at times she was accused of being a "professional student" – that brought her to her current position has given her the wide range of skills she needs to fulfil her duties as CEO.
What gives her joy and inspires her about her job is the ability to engage with and impart knowledge to the members of the institute, to see them grow and get inspired. It also offers her the opportunity to look to the future and determine what the IIA's strategy should be in both the short and long term. The IIA is affiliated with a global body, and she enjoys the international connection with her overseas counterparts. It's rewarding to discover that South Africa is not behind in our thinking compared to our international counterparts, particularly in aspects such as governance, strategic thinking, the passion to excel and thinking outside of the box.
Quiet she might be, but Dr von Eck is no stereotypical boring auditor. In her free time, she takes to the dancefloor – she's been dancing ballroom and Latin for over 18 years. She says that she's come to know her instructor, who is also her partner, so well that she knows exactly where he is about to move almost before he's even decided to move. Even in her free time, she's always considering every possibility, thinking about the next step within an environment that changes constantly. She has a voracious appetite for knowledge and also loves to read in her time off. Her work-life balance is important to her, despite the challenges of her job, and she makes a point of bringing balance to her life through diet and exercise.
Her time at UJ taught her to be comfortable with the fact that no one can predict the future, because she understands the importance of flexibility and dynamism in our the fast-moving world. Part of the university experience is understanding that you know very little about the world, and you need to become comfortable in not knowing everything and not knowing all the answers. No one is an island and it is important to be open to learning from the people around you – and that is a life skill that will prove its value time and time again.