An Interview with Kellie Teal-Guess of CyrusOne

September 30th, 2019

Would you get a tattoo of your company’s logo? At the Texas-based data center company CyrusOne, 120 of its 405 employees have chosen to do just that. Why? For Kellie Teal-Guess, executive vice president and Chief People Officer at CyrusOne, it’s all about culture.

“We have something special going on at CyrusOne,” she says. “We’re winning and having fun. HR is the facilitator, the keeper of the culture. I don’t have to convince the leadership team that having a fantastic culture is critical to our success. We do this together.”

HR may be the facilitator, but everyone in the company owns the culture, which is laid back, upbeat, and casual — “no jerks” is her motto in hiring.

“We hire on the basis of culture fit and skills,” she says. “If you’re Debbie Downer, you don’t want to work here. We want people who are humble, hungry, and smart.”

Another important part of CyrusOne’s company culture is the personal factor.

“We want employees to believe that we care that they, personally, come to work, versus just a warm body to do the job,” she says.

And she’s not just talking the talk. The company rallies around employees who are going through difficult times.

One of her toughest challenges is recruiting. “When a company grows as quickly as us, we have to be scouting for talent continually,” she explains. “With unemployment as low as it is, it’s a tough market for talent.”
That’s why the company’s strong culture is so vital, and it gives her something money can’t buy: a great company brand.

“I don’t have to worry about posting on social media about how great our company is,” she says. “Our employees do that.”

Even if you have a strong culture like CyrusOne, it’s a fragile thing that can be easily eroded, says Teal-Guess. One way to guard against that is to promote from within.

“Let’s say we brought in a vice president who is not a good fit with our culture. That can do real damage.”

At the end of the day, it’s about living the company’s values. Not just talking the talk. Maybe that’s why they made Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list in 2018.

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