Planning Your Career Journey with Stewart Brown and Siebrand Wolberink: Part 2

Rutherford Cross recently hosted its latest virtual Planning Your Career Journey (PYCJ) event featuring Stewart Brown, Head of Internal Audit at Macfarlane Group and Siebrand Wolberink, Head of Audit & Risk at Skyscanner.

The aim of our PYCJ events is to support those earlier on their careers in finance, encouraging attendees to focus on what matters to them, and sharing advice of those who are further along in their journeys.  As part of our event, we ran a poll asking the audience if they knew where they wanted to be in five years. The results were as follows:

  • Yes – 31%
  • No – 19%
  • I have some Idea – 50%

During the event, each of our speakers shared their own career journeys with our audience and highlighted the approaches that had allowed them to progress to the roles they hold today.  In this second instalment, we share Siebrand Wolberink’s insights.

Siebrand Wolberink, Head of Audit and Risk at Skyscanner

Personally and professionally…

Siebrand is Dutch, and he has worked in The Netherlands, USA and Scotland. He has visited over 50 countries for both personal and business reasons. Fourteen years in audit and risk have facilitated his global mobility. He very much sees Internal Audit as a platform for career development, given the extensive scope of an Auditor which encompasses governance, risk and compliance, strategy and planning, operations, software and infrastructure, as well as finance and reporting.

Siebrand sees any career journey as one which must be considered in conjunction with your personal journey. He considers it important to have a North Star when making career decisions. His career decisions were initially guided by professional aspirations, but since having a family his North Star shifted to taking more into account of what is best for him and his family.


Career journey:

Over the years, Siebrand has found out that career growth depends on the ability to create dynamic career plans. You should be willing to be flexible and capitalise on opportunities when they occur.

He started his career by focusing on top employers in The Netherlands, as he considered those to be a platform for talent development. He joined KPMG in external audit, which was ranked number three at that time. From there, he moved to internal audit with Liberty Global and subsequently TNT, which allowed him to travel internationally for around 40% of this time. To support his wife’s career aspirations, he moved to the USA and joined Protiviti in a contractor role, and subsequently KPMG USA. When his wife got offered a faculty position at the University of Edinburgh, they decided to move to Scotland.

Each role allowed him to grow personally and professionally, as well as to achieve promotion with each employer. His career aspirations always required him to combine strong work ethics with a focus on growing into a compassionate leadership role.



When Siebrand moved to Scotland, he initially found it daunting as he was not familiar with the job market here. To scope potential employers, he built a list of over 500 businesses in Scotland and listed key points around company size, profit, location / commuting options. When he found the opportunity at Skyscanner, he knew this was the role that would allow him to take his career forward in the direction he was heading in, while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.  His role encompasses audit and risk, but he has been able to use his position to broaden his scope and this is what he loves about his job.  For example, he was responsible for starting a COVID-19 task force in January 2020 – a true testament to the scope of an auditor!


Siebrand’s tips:

  • Do not rely on anyone to fully plan your career for you. The challenge is that you’re competing against every individual in your industry who wants to be a high performer. If you grow more capabilities more quickly than they do, you’ll perform better today, earn opportunities to perform better in the future, and a virtuous cycle will take hold. Development matters.
  • Work fills a large part of a person’s life (roughly one-third). To excel in your career, it is important to believe your work matters and you love doing it. If you haven’t found this yet, keep looking and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
  • Stay relevant and innovative, as skills quickly deteriorate. The current half-life of skills is five years.
  • Apply the 70-20-10 rule, which states that individuals obtain 70 percent of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20 percent from interactions with others, and 10 percent from formal educational events. As we spend a significant amount at work, make sure to get the most out of this time by considering:
    • Increasing your scope or responsibilities
    • Taking on new projects
    • Having and/or acting as a mentor
    • Learning and using new tools and technology
    • Taking on high stakes, high visibility assignments
    • Participating in committees and networking
    • Tackling persistent and unsolved problems

To find out more about Rutherford Cross events, or to discuss your internal audit recruitment needs, please contact [email protected].