New CEO of the Year: Christy Wyatt’s focus on customers turned Absolute Software’s fortunes around

President and CEO of Absolute Software, Christy Wyatt, photographed at the Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon, BC

Lucas Oleniuk/The Globe and Mail

When Christy Wyatt became CEO of Absolute Software Corp., she realized few people outside the cybersecurity company seemed to understand what it did. One shareholder would ask why Absolute wasn’t more focused on profitability; the next would want to know why the company was so focused on profitability. Some peppered her with questions about services Absolute no longer offered.

The firm was undervalued on the stock market in her view, too. “It was very confusing to me, because here was a company that was just shy of $100-million in recurring revenue, was profitable and was paying a dividend,” Wyatt says. “So why was this company not getting the credit I thought it deserved?” Absolute’s scattershot approach in the past has something to do with it. The Vancouver-based operation had gone through several iterations since it was founded in 1993 and hadn’t done enough to differentiate itself from its competitors. Somewhere along the way, Absolute’s story got muddled.

In her two years at the helm, Wyatt has brought a renewed focus, zeroing in on what makes Absolute unique and improving the messaging to customers and investors. She’s the rare executive who has both a background in technology and the ability to talk about it in a way people can understand. Wyatt, 48, rarely lapses into jargon and catches herself when she does. And her work is starting to show results. “From a financial perspective, we’ve seen margins jump significantly in a very short period of time,” says David Kwan, an analyst at PI Financial Corp. Profit margins have grown to around 10 per cent, and revenue was up 12 per cent between fiscal 2018 and 2020. The company has added about 1,000 customers since Wyatt joined, bringing the total to 13,000.

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Those metrics are important, of course, but Wyatt measures the company by what it’s doing for its customers. That approach helped her determine which priorities to tackle when she arrived in November 2018. Absolute got its start tracking lost and stolen…