Anchor List: Lucia Guillory, VP People & Places at Virta Health

The Anchor List recognizes extraordinary operators in the startup ecosystem. Learn more at anchorlist.com

In our highlight reel of top startup operators, Lucia Guillory deserves special mention for her work as the VP of People and Places at Virta Health.   

“Rather than simply making hires and keeping an organization compliant, I view talent and people leadership as a holistic opportunity to create a world in which teammates can thrive.”

Originally starting her career in academia, Lucia joined the startup industry in order to have greater real-world impact and innovate in the field. Having led Yahoo’s employee engagement and then worked as Patreon’s Head of People, Lucia now designs and executes the strategy for Virta’s end-to-end employee experience. At the diabetes-fighting company, Lucia’s approach to talent is oriented around an impressively holistic and integrated approach. 

On the cultural side, this approach includes incorporating key traits and values (such as fairness, transparency, and opportunity) into the working world. Listening to Lucia, the cultural value of this approach rings true. As she describes: “A lot of the content in the people space promotes the idea of a dichotomy between work and life, when in reality some of the most substantial parts of life happen at work.”

Structurally, Lucia’s integrated strategy has consolidated HR functions into a single organizational structure, bringing HR, real estate/facilities, executive support, and IT into a single team segmented into pods. This approach runs counter to most organizational designs/workflows but makes the team’s deliverables more robust and inclusive, as they naturally enjoy internal advocates around the office (and therefore shortcut the implementation challenges that many HR teams experience).

This integrated approach even extends to Lucia’s personal behavior and her recommendations for other employees. As she recommends: 

It’s important to figure out who you are so you can be true to that and project it. Early in my career, I presented the identity that I thought other people expected of me. All the self-regulation that requires prevents you from having good ideas and expressing yourself when you have a gem in your head. While this authentic projection can be especially hard as a woman and a woman of color, it’s an incredibly valuable regular practice.

While Lucia’s holistic and integrated approach is unconventional, it has led to significant success, such as in the speed of Virta’s hiring, quality of applicant candidates, and the company’s brand awareness (particularly among women and underrepresented minorities).

Reflecting on Lucia’s achievements at Virta, we’re particularly impressed by her big-picture approach. This holistic strategy achieves the company’s quantitative needs through both structural changes and more nebulous interventions (like culture and values). From many angles, Lucia has helped make Virta a wonderful place to work.