In an interview with The HR Digest, Carey Pellock talks about the value of DE&I initiatives in the global business sector and what makes Neustar a great place to work. “The pandemic gave us the opportunity to really test our agility and innovation, and I am proud to say we exceeded expectations,” she says. “I have no doubt that our diversity initiatives have made an indelible impact on our culture here at Neustar.” As a prominent HR leader, the CHRO at Neustar has contributed tremendously to paving the way to a more inclusive workforce.
An Ambassador for Inclusion
The HR Digest: What changes are working well for Neustar?
Carey Pellock: Since I joined Neustar in 2012, the company has undergone significant changes —most notably a transition from public to private company status and the arrival of a new CEO. While challenging, this process brought a discipline into Neustar that has served as the foundation for a heightened focus on our employee experience —a formal and regimented change management process.
Change is inevitable in any company. It’s essential for high-tech companies to maintain their competitive advantage, but how we’ve handled that change has been one of the pillars of our success over the past four years. For Neustar, change has been constant and widespread —from the business we are in, to our culture and literally everything in between. This amount of change could paralyze a company at worst and create chaos at best, but thanks to a proper change management system, we’ve thrived.
Another area I’m extremely proud of is our culture and values. Several key programs, co-created by management and employees, have set the tone and course for how we have navigated Neustar’s evolution. These programs were in their infancy when the pandemic hit. Our values, in particular – accountability, collaboration, transparency, resilience, and respect – were familiar words but not fully practiced. In the face of tremendous change, our values led the way. They grounded us throughout the pandemic, and we continue to rely on them to bring our teams together, irrespective of the challenges we face.
Our employees embraced our values and so too did our executive leadership. Our values informed our guiding principles, developed by our CEO and implemented by our Executive Committee, for operating through Covid-19. Chief among those principles was to keep our people safe and healthy, which meant considering how the pandemic was impacting our employees’ overall well-being, physically and mentally. In support of this effort, for Mental Health Awareness Month in May 2020, we launched a mental health framework that focused on four pillars —physical health, relaxation, balance and getting help. What started out as a short-term initiative has become an integral program at Neustar, with strong employee and leadership support.
Our culture and values evolved right along with our business —an interdependent process that was discernible even from the outside. Customers, partners, and potential new employees alike noticed that life at Neustar was different and appealing. And so, it became a differential —a competitive advantage in a highly competitive talent environment.
What challenges did you come across while working as a CHRO at Neustar? How did you manage these challenges?
We’ve managed through many periods of change during my tenure at Neustar, but the Covid-19 pandemic is by far the biggest challenge I’ve faced as CHRO. Of course, the pandemic presented challenges to all organizations, across all departments, but I think HR and Facilities, which is also under my umbrella, bore an overwhelming responsibility because the virus impacted people’s ability to physically be in the office.
With some 2,000 employees in 16 offices around the world, we must be very good at communicating and collaborating with one another so that we can continue innovating. And so, we had to quickly create and adopt more flexible work conditions and rely heavily on technology to help ensure business continuity.
As an organization, we drew heavily on our five core values —respect, resilience, accountability, collaboration, and transparency —to guide us during this time, which helped me make better decisions as a leader with a sense of confidence.
As a technology company, we are used to moving at lightning speed to keep pace with change and innovation. But the pandemic also gave our leadership an important gift —a pause to really see and appreciate the extraordinary team we have assembled here at Neustar.
You have demonstrated success in strategic thinking, planning and implementation through her experiences. How do you plan to maintain the best HR practices in the ever-evolving industry?
I attribute the success of our HR initiatives to adopting the innovative and agile thinking of our businesses. As an information services and technology company, we are constantly looking for ways to build for the future. This mindset has also driven our HR practices —not relying on past practices to solve today’s and tomorrow’s problems.
The pandemic gave us the opportunity to really test our agility and innovation, and I am proud to say we exceeded expectations. Not only did Neustar get through those initial daunting months, but we thrived. Now, we face ongoing shifts in our workplace, from where and how we work to why —all requiring continual evolution of our HR practices. Going forward, more so than ever, we’ll need to embrace a growth mindset and be open to new solutions and innovative thinking. To support this approach, we’ve enhanced our culture of feedback by committing to a framework for two-way feedback. Through education and practice, we will continue to challenge the status quo and have open, healthy discussions about what isn’t working and what could work instead.
The challenges of the pandemic solidified my thinking around the partnership between innovation and best practices. When paired, innovation and best practices will enable us to create effective solutions to support our employees’ experiences and help drive growth and profitability.
Can you tell The HR Digest readers more about Neustar’s strategies to raise the bar of leadership and diversity in the workplace?
At Neustar, we are actively working to address barriers that keep women and underrepresented groups from pursuing technology careers. Our research has shown that women, in particular, often feel invisible or unsupported in some tech company cultures. Women who have taken time off to raise families can be at a disadvantage in the hiring process, so we have shifted from focusing on credentials to evaluating potential. We are working hard to create an environment in which women feel empowered, engaged and supported, and our benefits package and flexible work options are part of that effort. For IT companies, Neustar has an above-average ratio of women to men, but there are always ways to improve.
One of the things I’m most proud of as CHRO of Neustar is overseeing the launch of and commitment to our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion program. In less than two years, we assembled a leadership council, hired a dedicated DE&I leader, created a framework to guide us, hosted our first Black History Month, and launched employee resource groups. I believe we are a better company and we are better leaders because of this commitment to diversity, to working to better understand each other, and to creating more allyship across our company. I have no doubt that our diversity initiatives have made an indelible impact on our culture here at Neustar.
What’s next for Neustar?
Neustar is entering an exciting new chapter. In September, TransUnion announced its intent to acquire our marketing, risk and communications businesses, and our security business will become a new portfolio company under Golden Gate Capital and GIC. Our unwavering commitment to sustaining a winning culture and achieving our growth strategy laid the groundwork for both of these transactions.
With growth comes change at some level, but change is certainly not new territory for us. Neustar has gone from public to private, we’ve acquired several companies, and we’ve weathered a global pandemic together. Yet we recognize that change is nearly always unsettling to people. Our focus now is on helping our employees understand what’s ahead and embrace the change and showing how it can drive tremendous opportunity for the company and for them professionally. Change management for us really comes down to communication and people.
Three years ago, we developed a formal Change Management Playbook, which put in place corporate strategies, structures, procedures and technologies to help us deal with change stemming from internal and external conditions. Tools like this, combined with how our people focus on living Neustar’s values every day, are helping us move forward in a positive direction. I’m so proud of our leaders, who have stepped up to engage and empower our employees, minimize disruptions to business, and manage with confidence and empathy.
Carey Pellock serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Neustar, Inc. She is responsible for the strategy, operations, and leadership of all aspects of the Company’s employee experience. As head of Neustar’s Human Resources and Facilities functions, Pellock leads the day-to-day people strategy that ensures Neustar has the best-in-class talent, amenities, and diverse and inclusive culture required to execute the Company’s customer success obsession strategy successfully.
This interview was published in the January 2022 issue of The HR Digest.