Ibukun Beecroft is a partner in Risk Advisory, Deloitte Nigeria with over 16 years of experience in the field. She holds a degree in banking and finance from Olabisi Onabanjo University in Nigeria, where she’s based, as well as a certificate of completion for the senior management programme at Lagos Business School and an MBA from the University of Warwick. Ibukun began as an intern at Deloitte in Risk Advisory and quickly gained experience in internal controls, corporate governance and enterprise risk management.
Since Deloitte honours Women in Risk Advisory, Ibukun is an outstanding example of a leader who makes an impact among her team and clients. She is a strong supporter of mentorships and is now a mentor to young women in Risk Advisory. We sat down with Ibukun recently to discuss her journey into risk and what advice she has for the next generation of female leaders.
Could you share your journey into Risk Advisory and describe your current day-to-day role? What inspires you to continue?
Ibukun Beecroft: I started my career in Risk Advisory as an intern. I worked predominantly in the banking industry in my home country of Nigeria, having the opportunity to travel across the country for business. I’ve since worked at Deloitte for 16 years!
As partner in Risk Advisory, Deloitte Nigeria, I provide strategic direction and guidance to clients in enterprise risk management, internal controls and corporate governance. I set goals for my team, lead and manage our group, and help my team achieve their goals. I also act as an ambassador for Deloitte. It’s important that I make sure clients get the most out of their relationship with us while making sure we bring the best of Deloitte to them.
One of my favourite aspects of my role is being a mentor to young women in Risk Advisory and helping them achieve leadership roles. I’m very passionate about mentorship. When I first joined Deloitte, I was assigned to a coach to help me navigate my new role and provide guidance as I grew in my career. I am grateful for this experience Deloitte has provided me and it has inspired me to continue in Risk Advisory. Having the right set of people guiding you at the right time makes all the difference.
Where do companies often struggle when it comes to internal controls implementation?
Ibukun Beecroft: Many companies struggle when they don’t have management buy-in, or leadership hasn’t set the right tone at the top. Internal controls cascade across an organisation, so it’s important for leadership to set an example because when corporate vision is not clearly defined, problems are more likely to arise. It’s critical for organisations to be held accountable when it comes to implementing internal controls, follow the right process and be transparent.
Another reason companies might experience struggles during implementation is because management might not mentally be ready to make the shift. If organisations are accustomed to an old process, it might be more difficult to implement controls.
Where do you see the future of controls headed?
Ibukun Beecroft: Internal controls are changing rapidly because of what we are facing in our world. Internal controls must learn to be dynamic and respond to this changing environment. We need to build controls in such a way that they are resilient and can stand the test of time and be adaptable and reliable.
Why is it important to have the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone? Do you have any examples from personal experience and advice to help people overcome their hesitancy?
Ibukun Beecroft: It’s important to stretch yourself because when you do, it gives you the opportunity for growth and development. There are many times in my career when I have had to take on new challenges and trust myself and when I have, the impact it has had on my career is evident.
After my first few years at Deloitte, I was given an opportunity to lead the governance part of Risk Advisory as a senior manager. I was very eager for this growth opportunity and to jump outside my comfort zone. I am always looking to try new things because it’s exciting!
One opportunity that has stood out the most to me in my career with Deloitte was when I was invited to attend a summit programme in Italy. I was given the chance to meet people from across the world who were governance leaders and connect with and learn from them. That experience made a huge difference in my career, as I was able to take my learnings from that summit and develop as a governance and internal audit leader.
One of my favourite things about Deloitte is that we are not stagnant; there are always new opportunities and challenges to take on. It’s important that we raise our hands when these opportunities come and be ready to step outside our comfort zone and challenge ourselves. My advice—take a chance on yourself! Because when you do, you’ll do better.
What challenges do women face growing their careers in the risk business? Do you have any personal examples?
Ibukun Beecroft: Before I was married, I had the luxury of being able to focus on my career without thinking about the impact that it would have on my family. But once I got married and we started a family, my priorities changed. It became extremely important to me to strike the right balance between work and family without dropping the ball at work.
And I was able to achieve this goal because I had the right support system around me—I worked with my managing partner to guide me in my journey of balancing these two priorities. I am proud to say that I was able to invest time and resources to get the extra help I needed to meet the expectations of my role, while being the best parent I could be.
So, my advice to other women is to get the right support system. Deloitte provides the support and platform for women to find the right balance for them, because women shouldn’t have to hold back from achievements. And I’m incredibly lucky to be a part of such a great company.
How can the risk industry better promote inclusivity and diversity? How can we attract more women to the field?
Ibukun Beecroft: To better promote inclusion and diversity, it’s important to understand and be aware of unconscious bias and communicate this in the workplace.
It’s also important to note that many women are perfectionists in nature; we don’t want to fail at anything. But the truth is, we’re going to make mistakes and organisations need to allow women to make these mistakes. With the appropriate process and structure in place and with the right support system of mentors and coaches, women can achieve anything.
Another way organisations can better promote inclusion and diversity is through acknowledging mental health. I believe organisations need to provide flexibility and the right support, so all employees, not just women, feel grounded, heard and supported.
Lastly, I am a firm believer in equal opportunities for every member of the team and I try to embody this as a leader myself. Having a team of both men and women, from all backgrounds, facilitates balanced interaction and inclusion and provides better outcomes. Organisations need to promote equal pay and promotion rights, so every employee is given the same opportunities to succeed.
View Deloitte’s Women in Risk series.