Paylocity CISO

Bradley Schaufenbuel is the kind of guy who is always making the effort to reach another peak, literally and figuratively. The long list of accomplishments listed on his biography (so far) reads more like the work of three men, not just one.

Schaufenbuel began his education with a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and Computer Science from the University of Northern Iowa. Upon graduation, he started his career with Arthur Anderson LLP. “I was basically a helpdesk person doing end user support and system administration. In those days, back in the mid-90’s, everyone still wore dark suits and ties to work every day. There I was, in my best suits, crawling around under desks and data center floors to run cable,” recalls Schaufenbuel with amusement.

Fortunately, those days of crawling around were short-lived. When an opportunity to join the security team at Arthur Anderson came up, Schaufenbuel jumped at the chance and made his fortuitous move into information security. At the same time, Schaufenbuel was pursuing his MBA from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.

Arthur Anderson suffered a deathblow in 2002 when the firm lost its accounting license and faced a rash of lawsuits. “I was one of the last people to work for Anderson,” says Schaufenbuel. “I actually turned the lights out on the data center. After Arthur Anderson lost its license to provide accounting services, I stayed for a year and half to help with litigation support, doing the electronic discovery piece of the work.”

Moving into management roles in security

Following his time with the accounting firm and a short stint with Q Center, Schaufenbuel got his first role in security management at Experian, the credit reporting agency. He spent several years honing his management skills at Experian before moving to Zürich Financial Services. “I made the change to go to a global company and a global role,” says Schaufenbuel. “There I was the head of IT compliance for the Americas, and so I had responsibility for legal and regulatory compliance on the IT side for Canada, the US, Central America and South America. I spent a lot of time in those countries as well as in Zürich. I liked the global nature of the job and getting to work with people in multiple countries. I liked the fact that it was a large, complex organization with plenty of challenges.”

Schaufenbuel wanted to expand beyond his role in IT compliance. He began working for Midwest Bank as a Senior Vice President and Information Security Officer. It was his first role in which he was responsible for all aspects of security. Over the course of several years, Schaufenbuel held leadership positions at various banks in the midwestern US, and then began his first stint with Paylocity.

Not one to sit still, Schaufenbuel went to law school while also working full-time. “I had a lifelong interest in law, and I thought it would be interesting to go to law school. My wife got tired of hearing me talk about it and she convinced me to take the LSAT [entrance exam] to see how I would do,” he says. “It turns out I did well enough to be offered a full scholarship to attend law school. At that point, I would have been foolish not to go.”

In pursuit of law degrees

“Law school was a challenge because I continued to work full-time throughout my years in school. I got the JD and the Masters of Law in less than four years, which is the normal time it takes if you’re going to school full-time. I took five or six classes a semester while working full-time and basically just went to class from 6 to 9 PM five days a week, and then studied from sunup to sundown all day Saturday and Sunday. I just repeated the process for four years straight,” says Schaufenbuel.

All the effort paid off, as Schaufenbuel now holds a Juris Doctor degree and a Master of Laws degree from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He is licensed to practice law in Illinois and he is a member of the United States Supreme Court Bar.

Despite having earned the law degrees, Schaufenbuel never had any intention to change careers or be a trial attorney. Instead, he uses his knowledge of the law to bolster his position as a Chief Information Security Officer. “If you think about it, most CISOs have third-party vendor management oversight as part of their responsibility. There’s an element to that that involves contract negotiation, so there’s that aspect of it. There’s also compliance with legal and regulatory requirements—privacy laws, data protection laws. It helps to have a legal background when you are dealing with those things,” says Schaufenbuel.

For a short time, Schaufenbuel did combine his love of law and his passion for information security when he held the role of Global Director of Information Security at the venerable law firm of Sidley Austin LLP. However, he missed the fast-paced culture of the cloud-based human capital management company, Paylocity, where he had worked previously. “I love the culture at Paylocity, and the fact that the company is growing quickly. It satisfies my need for tackling new challenges, which is something I do every day as the Chief Information Security Officer,” says Schaufenbuel.

There’s nothing like a good challenge

He does, indeed, like his challenges. During his career, and while pursuing his various degrees, Schaufenbuel has found time to write multiple books as well as attain at least 22 professional credentials and designations, including the C/CISO, CISSP and CISA certifications.

And then there is the literal aspect of reaching his peaks. During his spare time, Schaufenbuel likes to hike “fourteeners”—mountains that are at least 14,000 feet tall. “I just got back from a trip to Colorado to hike fourteeners. That’s not like a free-face rock climbing thing. It’s more of a mountain that has a peak that’s accessible via hiking and is 14,000 feet or higher. The attraction is that it’s really high up. You feel like you are at the top of the world when you get to that level. Usually 14,000 feet peaks are miles apart, so you can see all of the mountain ranges that are around you, and all the towns below. It’s just an incredible view and an amazing feeling.”

When he isn’t scaling mountains, the corporate world or the educational system, Schaufenbuel enjoys life with his wife and young daughter. They like to spend their spare time traveling the world.