Audimation Services, Inc., has selected Leslie Kirsch, CFE, CISA, CIDA, Director, Central Analytics with Withum as the recipient of the 2019 U.S. IDEA User of Excellence Award. She is being recognized for her longstanding use of data analytics to help both clients and peers apply technology to increase efficiency, identify fraud and explore data from different perspectives.
Withum is a top-25 public accounting firm focused on forward-thinking and technology-driven advisory services. Kirsch was nominated by senior partner Scott Price for her success in architecting and operating Withum’s Data Analytics Center of Excellence, which provides centralized analysis support to the entire firm.
She leads a team of full-time data analytics specialists and part-time contributors who are embedded in different offices and engagement teams across the firm. Her team supports Withum’s 3,500-plus external financial audits, as well as the firm’s forensic accounting, tax, and advisory practices by designing and documenting innovative analytical procedures. Kirsch used IDEA to design and automate new procedures, which resulted in efficiency gains as high as 90 percent on most engagements.
The central analysis group supports teams to data extraction and transformation problems, assessing the reliability of their data, identifying fraud and errors, and transitioning from sampling to 100 percent review methodologies. Kirsch and team also provide training and consulting services to internal and external auditors who are looking to improve their own organization’s use of audit data analytics.
Advancements in technology are reshaping how we work. Early on in my career, data analytics helped me get answers to critical questions and empowered me to deliver more value to the organization. One of my goals is to move our profession into the future of audit by using data analytics to increase our efficiency and effectiveness. I've used IDEA for nearly 15 years to solve tough challenges and I'm both honored and thrilled to receive this award. Leslie Kirsch, CFE. CISA, CIDA Director, Central Analytics, Withum
Over the past year, Kirsch revamped Withum’s data analytics curriculum for auditors and created a community of practice within the firm. She has provided dozens of new analysts with initial hands-on software and conceptual analytics topics, trained the company’s new audit managers on brainstorming innovative analytics, and created a coaching program to provide continual support for the firm’s data analysts. She has also developed firm-wide guidance on the use of analytical procedures in accordance with professional audit and consulting standards
Professionals like Leslie Kirsch are instrumental in elevating auditors to become sought-after resources to their clients and within their organizations. Beyond helping the firm's clients achieve success using data analytics, she has encouraged her peers to embrace technology. This is what drives our profession forward and we applaud the work she has achieved during her impressive career. Carolyn Newman President, Audimation Services
Before joining Withum, Kirsch worked at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) where she used IDEA to uncover multiple instances where government agencies awarded contracts to vendors and contractors that were in the Excluded Parties List System, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases. She also used data analytics to identify multiple cases of public and private schools that hired or retained individuals with histories of sexual misconduct.
Kirsch is a frequent speaker at conferences on the use of data analytics for the accounting and investigative professions. She serves as a hands-on IDEA trainer for the AICPA, ACFE, and IIA chapters, as well as for private events. She has also provided support and training in IDEA and data analytics for accounting educators, including providing hands-on IDEA training for their students and presenting on careers in audit data analytics.
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