Karen Hogan, BComm (accountancy) 93, GrDip 95, knows a thing or two about financial responsibility.
As the Auditor General of Canada, Hogan — along with members of her office — provides independent oversight over major federal government programs, providing fact-based, expert advice to parliamentarians.
“We encourage transparency and accountability,” she says, speaking broadly about the role of her office. “Those are cornerstones to our democracy.”
The John Molson School of Business graduate says she didn’t know what course her career would take when she began working in the private sector in 1994. Prior to joining the public sector, Hogan worked as an auditor at the Montreal-based accounting firm Schlesinger Newman Goldman and then as a manager at Ernst & Young LLP offices in Thunder Bay and Ottawa. She joined the office of the auditor general in 2006.
Her varied experience allowed her to discover that the auditing field best aligned with her values and interests.
“The reason I came back to auditing was because of the variety of work that I would get. Every day can bring something new,” she explains. “It was different when I was a controller in a corporation, where you kind of do the same thing day after day, quarter to quarter, month to month.”
Now working as a key public servant, Hogan views the auditing process as a vital part of a functioning democracy. She will serve as the auditor general for a 10-year, non-renewable appointment.
A long road ahead
Though she only stepped into the role this past June, Hogan now finds herself taking over during an unprecedented period.
In a bid to help out-of-work Canadians and businesses cope with the outfall of COVID-19, the federal government has spent billions since March. The House of Commons has since requested Hogan’s office to audit the government’s response to the crisis.
She and her colleagues will therefore take a look at a wide range of programs, from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to overall pandemic preparedness from a government standpoint.
“As you can imagine, there are so many programs that have been put into place in order to ensure health and safety and to support the economy,” says Hogan.