Dr. Claudelle von Eck | CEO of the Institute of Internal Auditors of South Africa

Dr. Claudelle von Eck is the CEO of the Institute of Internal Auditors of South Africa (IIA SA), an organisation responsible for representing the interests of Internal Auditors as well as supporting and upholding the fundamental pillars of the profession. Through her collaborative approach to leadership, whereby she strives to lead by example, she hopes to contribute to the empowerment of South Africa by raising the professional standards of the internal auditing community. Besides being a lover and advocate of Latin and Ballroom dancing, Dr. Claudelle is the possessor of many wisdoms surrounding purpose, respect, fairness, responsibility, integrity and reminds us to never take those around you for granted. We hope that her wisdom and fascinating story will provide you with guidance today:


dr-claudelle-von-eck1About my Life Mission | To live my life in the interest of the collective.


I Am Driven By | Making a difference and having a positive impact on society. I’m one of those people who are not really motivated by money. I am motivated by being able to make a positive impact, on society. When I look at a job it’s not just a job; my job needs to fit in with my life mission. This is absolutely important to me – I want to be part of serving a cause.


The Difference Between Good And Great | People who are great at what they do, firstly, have aligned what they do with their purpose. If you have a very good understanding of what your purpose is, and you align what you do to your purpose, you will automatically have passion for what you do and you would do it to the best of your ability. Then, couple that with the notion of responsibility; if you understand the impact that your actions have on the bigger picture, you will make sure that you do things to the best of your ability. You won’t end up with a ‘good enough’ attitude. I think that people who are great at what they do have that notion of responsibility that says: I do not have the right to rob society of my absolute best. If you understand what it is that you bring to the table, and the impact that has on the greater good, then you have to be great. ‘Good enough’ is not enough.


A Key Talent | I think one of my key strengths is my ability to lead with vision. For me, vision is not just a vision statement or an end goal. It is the ability to see the dots around you and to connect them in such a manner that others can see the connected dots as well. They will then be able to follow you where you need to take them. Furthermore, you need to be able to lead your team in an adaptive manner. My ability to see the dots and connect them is an evolutionary process because, in the world we live in today, everything is continuously shifting. The dots may be sitting in one area today and in a completely different place tomorrow. It is therefore important that are able to see the moving dots, adapt with them, while continuously crystalising that vision to those who you need to take with you into the future.


design2Principles, Values and Ideologies I Live By | What is very important is purpose, I have mentioned it already and I keep coming back to that because, for me, everything is connected to it.
Then respect, and it’s not just respecting others but also respecting myself. When I respect myself I am also respecting others because I understand how my actions impact on them. Self-respect says that I should never be satisfied with less of myself than what I can deliver in the interest of the greater good. If I become satisfied with mediocrity within myself, I do not have respect for myself; if I do not have respect for myself, I do not have respect for what it is that I bring to the collective. So when I talk about understanding my impact on the collective and the responsibility that comes with that, it is also about respecting the collective. For me, that is fundamentally important in how I conduct myself.
The notion of responsibility is very important to me. I’m an eldest child so you can blame my parents for my over-developed sense of responsibility.
Fairness is very important to me. It is more important that I be seen as fair than people liking me. You can’t please everybody but you can do your utmost best to ensure that there is fairness in all decisions, which also speaks to inclusiveness and equality. Equality is not just about gender or race but also about the class system which society has created. When I see another human being, I do not look at what the person has in terms of title or material wealth but who the person is.
Lastly, of course, ethics are important. No one can say that they are 100% ethical because ethics is very complex but I try to be what I call ethically intelligent, or I’m working towards I should say, becoming more ethically intelligent. This means the ability to spot ethical implications in decisions and actions and the ability to recognise ethical dilemmas and making sound decisions around ethical dilemmas.


How I Use My Mind | The one thing that I’ve learnt is that I need to become comfortable with the fact that my mind works in cycles. There are times when I’m in the zone and then there are times when my mind is in resting and maintenance mode; keeping that balance is key. I don’t force myself to be in bright mode when I am supposed to be in maintenance mode. If you just keep running and running, eventually you’ll burn out, your mind will burn out. So, firstly, it is that understanding of where I am and being attuned to where I am at. Secondly, I’m an initiative person, I have the ability to very intuitively pick things up around me; my mind is constantly shaping ideas. I often feel that ideas just pop into my mind, but I’ve come to realise what that is. When I allow my mind to rest and my subconscious to pick up what is happening around me, I shape things and eventually crystalise them. So when that clarity comes through, it feels like this idea is dropping into my head from nowhere. A lot of creativity is driven if you work towards being attuned to the world around you, to your intuition.


Lessons I Have Learnt | To never compromise my integrity. This is not always easy, we tend to say these things without understanding the depth of where they will take us when we’re tested. I’ve been through a few tests in my life where I’ve really had to make difficult decisions which tested my integrity. In those moments, it is not always easy to keep your integrity when you are under threat, when you are being victimized or intimidated. So, when I say don’t compromise my integrity, I am not saying it lightly.
I’ve also learned that one should never underestimate the dangers around you, never be at ease. I grew up fairly protected; my parents had very high values so I was raised under those conditions. To a large extent, when you’re not exposed to people in your childhood, who do not necessarily adhere to the same value systems, when you do eventually encounter them, you may very well underestimate what it is that you’re dealing with. I have been in situations where I’ve learnt the very hard way that because of my upbringing I tend to have my guard down and see the good in people even when their true intentions are not noble. Not everybody has the same intentions that you have; always be aware of this.
I’ve also learnt, the hard way, that you cannot be everything to everybody. It is impossible to be in a space where every single person in the world will recognise your good intentions. Even when you are working with the best of intentions, the purest of heart and integrity, there will always be people who will either misread your intentions or have their own agendas against you. If you are the kind of person who needs everybody to like you, you will not survive in a leadership position. You have to be comfortable with the fact that there are always going to be people out there who will misunderstand you, misrepresent you and who will not like you simply because of what you stand for.
Also, in terms of not underestimating people, the greatest of wisdoms can sit within the soul of a very uneducated person. We’ve created a world where we tend to revere those who have things: wealth, knowledge, and degrees. We tend to completely miss out on the wisdom that those who are less fortunate and those who are less educated can bring to the table.


designThe Best Advice I’ve Received | The best advice I’ve ever received was from my late dad. He said to me: “you need to make a decision, until you’ve made a decision you will remain in turmoil”. At that time, I was in turmoil because I knew what I needed to do but I was afraid of actually doing it. The day I made the decision to take the bold step, I got peace. I’ve subsequently seen it over and over again in my life; until I’ve made a decision, I remain in turmoil. Don’t steer away from the bold choice, otherwise you may end up placing yourself in a continuous mode of turmoil which serves absolutely no one.