Carey Pellock on Building a Winning Culture

Neustar’s Carey Pellock is an HR business partner who’s focused on recruiting the best and the brightest, from within the company as well as from outside

Neustar is in the throes of a number of office moves, including the location of its headquarters—consolidating two offices from Sterling, Virginia, to a brand new, architecturally innovative and iconic building in the Reston, Virginia, Metro Plaza. It’s a sign of the company’s commitment to its defined values and dedication to creating a winning culture to keep it a fierce competitor in the information services and technology landscape, says Carey Pellock, Neustar executive vice president and chief human resources officer.

The moves are a big investment in markets around the world. For headquarters-based employees, it will provide a more collaborative and connected work environment, plus an on-site metro station. “The new office will also enhance Neustar’s ability to attract and retain emerging tech talent, address current workplace needs, and foster growth in a sustainably minded environment,” said President and CEO Charlie Gottdiener in a September 2019 press announcement.

Carey Pellock Neustar Inc.
Carey Pellock, Neustar Inc.Photo: Courtesy of Neustar Inc.

This mirrors the work that Pellock has championed in the past seven years as she’s risen to the top of the HR chain by being a fierce advocate for the candidate and employee experience as well as creating professional development and growth opportunities for Neustar’s more than 1,800 employees.

Pellock says she professionally grew up at Sallie Mae, where she cultivated the reputation for pivoting successfully between being a hands-on leader and a strategic thinker. “I had the opportunity to really step into all the HR functions,” she says. “I’ve worked in those specialized functions, I’ve led those functions, and in some cases, I’ve created those functions. I feel like it’s given me a really unique advantage.”

The Winning Key

Carey Pellock is passionate about HR, but early on, it seemed like she might prefer to sing for her supper. The EVP is a classically trained singer who says her dedication to her art translated to her professional career.

“You have to make sure you’re doing something for which you have great passion,” Pellock says. “I get the same exhilaration from my job as I did from being in musicals. It’s a natural excitement that you want to make sure you’re experiencing every day, otherwise you’re in the wrong profession.”

Her early talent management experience allowed her to view herself as a self-described “thoroughbred HR business partner,” able to work on behalf of all employees but through the pragmatic and necessary perspective of aligning with key business objectives. “Being a business partner also requires you to understand the business your company is in so you can really see employee challenges focused through their own lens,” Pellock explains.

Over the last year, Neustar sought to establish company values, a move focused on building a winning company culture. “It wasn’t the CEO and me sitting in a room saying, ‘These are the company values,’” Pellock says. “We created a values and culture committee comprising folks across the company that drafted these values and really engaged the entire Neustar population.” The EVP says that after an initial indicator survey, a second survey four months later showed engagement points up over 14 percent. “I couldn’t be prouder of this particular initiative,” Pellock says.

But Pellock has much more in store. Neustar created an extended leadership team by identifying more than one hundred individuals at the company who they consider to be the next generation of leaders. “We’ve engaged them in a number of professional, personal, and business development opportunities,” Pellock says. “While we’re heavily focused on bringing in the best and brightest from the outside, we also believe we have a lot of these talented individuals already within the company, who we are happy to continue to invest in.”

Neustar’s challenge, however, is managing to employ enough prime talent at the speed of its own growth, a good problem to have if a company must have one. “We tripled our recruiting efforts that we did this same time last year,” Pellock says. “We’re very proud of the efforts of our recruiting organization, as well as engaging hiring managers so they don’t feel this is an ‘HR’ exercise; they really own a significant piece of the candidate experience, and I’m happy to see them embrace this.”

Efforts to attract that talent have also been successful but did require an overhaul. “We took a look at our entire recruiting process and realized it was broken,” Pellock admits. “We spent a lot of time and energy making sure that our actual employee experience is the one that’s being relayed to candidates.” Neustar and Pellock spent an entire month focused on translating true employee experiences to sites like Glassdoor and other social and recruiting sites to better reflect what it means to be an employee at the company, and to relay what it feels like to be part of a winning culture.

Building a winning culture isn’t just about buildings or values or initiatives, Pellock says. It’s the way they’re translated. The culture of collaboration was borne from actual Neustar employees and is clearly evidenced by the way department “neighborhoods” will be established in the company’s new headquarters. Neustar’s commitment to improving its employee experience starts with making it even easier for employees to get to work, now poised immediately off the metro line.

Pellock isn’t an effective HR leader just because she’s helping build a winning culture. It’s because she’s hitting all the right notes.