Under Laurie Schultz’s direction, ACL (Audit Command Language) went from selling niche risk-management software to offering a full menu of governance, audit analytics and compliance software in a subscription and cloud-based service. It’s since earned Canada’s Top Small and Medium Employer honours for three consecutive years. Schultz, MBA ’95, who says high-school sports taught her the importance of using collaboration to get the best performance, discussed with UAlberta Business the making of a “re-startup” company and the importance of “anti-fragility.”
What drove you to re-launch a stable company?
LS: I’ve been with ACL for almost six years now, hired by the founder, Harald Will, who’d run the business for 30 successful years. I came in to “break all the rules,” as he put it. We wanted to re-earn our number-one position as a provider of compliance, audit and risk management software. We wanted to spike growth, and we wanted to always be in front of technology shifts for millennials, who would demand a different kind of experience.
What advice would you give a company looking to do the same thing?
LS: Two things: Have that alignment between the leader and talent. You don’t want a re-inventor at the top of an organization that doesn’t want to be changed. The second thing is once you have that match, make sure everyone is aligned on what transformation means. The board, the CEO, the leadership team, all the way through—everyone needs to be moving in the same direction.
You’re an advocate for “anti-fragility.” What is it and why?
LS: The point of anti-fragility, whether it’s a body or an organization, is to get better through intentional stressors. It’s like going to the gym. You’re lifting weights and pushing yourself, so the next day, you’re stronger. It’s invigorating to work here, but not necessarily easy, because we continue to raise our own bar. It’s an example of where you can be really disruptive, but if you have a team that’s ready for that kind of change, it can be really strengthening.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Jordhana Rempel has previously written articles for JWN Energy and short fiction for Binge.co.in.