Employees at A-LIGN take many different paths – that’s why we sat down with our Director of Product Management, Lorna Russell, to talk about how she applies her software experience into the development of A-SCEND, A-LIGN’s proprietary technology platform.
Tell me about your role at A-LIGN.
I joined A-LIGN to help with the strategic development and product roadmap for the A-SCEND platform. In partnership with A-LIGN’s Chief Technology Officer Gene Geiger, we work with our clients, subject matter experts, industry analysts and other key stakeholders to gather market research. My goal is to understand their needs and requirements so we can provide innovative solutions to their challenges. I also contribute to A-SCEND’s implementation strategy as well as the solution’s positioning and messaging in partnership with our marketing team.
What attracted you to A-LIGN?
My interest in cybersecurity. What also really impressed me was how A-LIGN wanted to use technology to decrease friction, any friction, for clients and consultants utilizing their services. After meeting Gene, I was immediately drawn in with his enthusiasm and vision for his team. I felt he had a meaningful plan that would propel A-LIGN’s growth and I wanted to be part of that climb!
What is A-SCEND? How does it impact our clients?
A-SCEND is the technology platform that we have built with our clients to help organizations of all levels mature and streamline their audit and compliance needs to more easily deal with framework changes and accelerate cybersecurity and privacy assessments. This innovative technology can mitigate the pain points of assessments for organizations of any size, accelerating the assessment process with benefits such as reduced preparation time, best-in-class support, guaranteed data security and more.
Tell me about your background and expertise.
I’ve been in product management for roughly 15 years. I love how product managers help organizations define a vision of technology to meet their goals. It involves a large amount of due diligence and can be challenging, but it’s a rewarding job for people like me who love change and overcoming obstacles.
Have you received any awards or recognition in your tenure?
I was named one of IBM’s 2019 Women Leaders in AI. I worked with BMC Software to integrate IBM Watson, a suite of AI services, into BMC’s Helix platform, combining two powerful technologies into one product. As AI services mature, they provide opportunities to solve business problems more efficiently but still require human interaction. The individual recognition was nice, but I felt it was a team win. I was really representing the hard work of fabulous team members at BMC. Teamwork is important at A-LIGN too and I am excited about what we will achieve together.
If you could describe A-LIGN in one word, what would it be?
A-LIGN, as a company, knows what it takes to be successful, and we embrace innovation to help our clients reach the summit with a group of intelligent and committed people.
What do you do for fun outside of A-LIGN?
I love to walk! I walk about four miles every morning before work in a neighborhood with lovely grandfather oaks, a river and wildlife like owls, hawks and coyotes. I am hoping to hike the last 100km of the Camino de Santiago next year. I also enjoy reading. I feel sorry for authors because they spend months, even years writing books that I devour very quickly.
What is your motto/personal mantra?
My work motto is to bring integrity, competence and commitment every day.
I want to be observant and a good listener. I want to be kind but fair and direct. I want to be the kind of person that does things for those around me to make their lives better. I can’t solve the world’s problems easily, but I can easily support and lift the people around me.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I used to be a field archaeologist; I worked on wonderful projects for the University of South Florida, Kansas State Historical Society and private archaeology firms. However, I found that it’s challenging to support a family on an archaeologist’s salary. I discovered product management after taking an interest in technology, but still use skills I learned as an anthropologist today.
What do you like most about your role?
I love that my role allows me to learn new things. For the past few years, my expertise has been in artificial intelligence (AI). Companies are still learning how they can use AI to improve workflows through automation, and my role allows me to switch between playing with this technology and sharing how the same technology can solve our clients and stakeholders’ problems.
What made you choose to start your journey at A-LIGN?
I was very impressed by A-LIGN’s reputation. I noticed how high the company’s employee satisfaction ratings were on Glassdoor. That is something very difficult to achieve on Glassdoor! Now that I am here, I can see that those reviews are genuine. Our company has a fantastic vision and culture.