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ACL’s New Vancouver Office a Beacon to Tech Companies

“The last time we moved was 15 years ago. It was a huge milestone for us. It launched a whole decade of excitement and this feels exactly the same,” said ACL’s founder Harald Will after cutting the ceremonial ribbon officially opening ACLs new space in downtown Vancouver.

The newly-designed, $10 million dollar corporate headquarters occupies the top four floors at 980 Howe, reflecting the internal culture of the company and serving as a beacon to Vancouver tech companies that longstanding global success is achievable from British Columbia.

ACL has over 14,000 customers in 100 countries around the world, and commands over 60% of the global market share in the global analytics audit category, providing internal controls that identify risk, fraud, and organizational waste.

In the province’s recent #BC Tech Strategy, it was said that “The B.C. tech sector has come into its own.”  The new ACL headquarters is a shining expression of that, demonstrating to aspiring tech founders and the 90,000 tech workers in B.C. what is possible from Vancouver.

“I look forward to continuing to grow technology in Vancouver with you all,” said CEO Laurie Schultz.

ACL’s office design emphasizes a pride in its Vancouver roots. Local wood wall accents and incredible views of the city through floor-to-ceiling windows reflect the theme of local roots and global reach. Every seat in the house has a stellar view of Vancouver.

The Transformers, a special internal team with at least one individual from every department in ACL, worked for a year and a half to get feedback and source ideas from their respective teams on more than 40 different design items. These included everything from color accents to convertible stand up desks to the types of meeting rooms that would eventually become a reality in the office.

The office is full of small meeting spaces and casual areas where employees can get away from commotion. Each of these spaces has a unique design, from cozy and private gallery seating to tranquil corners furnished with acoustic seating pods designed to absorb ambient noise while facing a floor-to-ceiling window looking towards Vancouver’s West End. Numerous café areas are collaboration spaces with whiteboards where you’re likely to see anyone, from the C-Suite to the recently onboarded, get away to gather their thoughts.

Notably, ACL has gone office-less, with everyone, including the CEO herself, working in the open space.

A fascinating symbol found throughout the office is the ubiquitous moose. Even as you enter the ground-floor lobby of the building, the gaze of a life-sized moose statue seemingly follows you from the doors to the elevator. Tiny stuffed moose dolls appear throughout the ACL office.

“Have you heard of the phrase, ‘Elephant in the room’?” my ACL guide asked. “We’re Canadian, so we thought we want people to be open to bringing up any sort of questions or issues that they have, the uncomfortable issues. We call it putting the moose on the table.”

This year, like last, ACL was selected as one of BC’s Top Employers.  The office, with the collaborative approach taken to its design, the numerous and unique private spaces found throughout, and the effort to give every employee a window seat with a tremendous view of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, certainly reflects that.

When I asked CEO Laurie Schultz about how the physical space manifests ACL’s culture, her concise response reflected this as well:  “Everyone’s opinion matters.”

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