Keri Gilder grew up in the small town of Leadville, Colorado, before relocating to New Mexico to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Management Information Systems from New Mexico State University. She began her career in network engineering before transitioning to telecom sales. Roughly nine years ago, she moved to Europe and held various leadership positions with Ciena, a networking solutions provider. In 2018, she assumed the role of Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at Colt and was subsequently promoted to CEO in May 2020. As CEO, Keri is accountable for realising Colt's vision of becoming the digital infrastructure company that the world's foremost businesses select to connect with.
Starting the day in an active way
I have always enjoyed sports and believe that there is a huge connection between body and mind. I love lifting weights, HIIT workouts and long walks in the morning to get my day started. This leads me to a more positive perspective throughout the day. I also believe that a few minutes of breathing and meditation set the stage for a more thoughtful approach to people and projects. I use various apps like Calm and Balance and follow Sadhguru or Wim Hof to start my day.
My day officially starts when I look at my calendar, ensuring I have read or have the briefings required for my various meetings. I try to go through my priority email and then review my to-do List to see what I need to accomplish for the day as well as look forward to the week.
Every day is different, and this is what I love about my job. One day I am talking to customers about their challenges and how Colt can make their lives easier, the next day I am having a conversation about how we can simplify our processes and automate our business. My day varies from high-level company strategy to building our Colt culture to how we drive sustainability by design. Every day is different and every day is filled with ‘Colties’, industry and local community and customer engagements.
Overcoming the day's challenges
Every day there is a different challenge and that can come at any time during the day. Our business is 24 hours, if a back-hoe breaks a cable and our network is disrupted, we could be working with our suppliers and customers at 3AM to get that backup and running as soon as possible. I would say the most challenging part of any day, and our business in general is time zones. I know that sounds so simple, but trust me – it’s not.
We are a global business, we have Colties across 34 countries, we have customers in every part of the world. This means we have to run our business around the sun and we need to be conscious of when we are setting up meetings and engaging with our teams so that the burden of “burning the late-night oil” is not always on one region or the other – whether that be Japan, California or London.
Reflecting on the day’s highs
The most rewarding aspect of my day is when I receive an email or a notification that our customers have received service that is, bar none, the best in the industry. I also love to see our Colties doing great things for our customers, for other Colties or developing themselves. At Colt we have values: We Know People Matter, We Can Always Find a Better Way and We can Change the World.
When I see Colties making a difference for our business, our customers and their communities – these all three come together. These are the moments that matter. These are the moments I hold dear.
Finding time to relax
My calendar is blocked from sun up to sun down and I have “Do Not Disturb” hours in the morning and in the evening. Of course, if we have a customer escalation I’ll make sure I’m available, but outside of that, I hold these hours sacred. They are hours for me to ensure I stay healthy with workouts, meditation, and time to think. They are hours for me to ensure that I have time to spend with my family and friends.
Then, my lovely husband typically makes us dinner, and we sit down at the table (no electronics allowed) and have a nice meal to share what happened in our day.
We clean up (usually I am the dishwasher and kitchen cleaner) and then we relax and watch a 30-minute or so Netflix show (the most recent is Wednesday, it’s really good – check it out!). At 8PM, I turn off all electronics, I find blue light really bothers my sleep patterns, so I have 1.5 hours of no electronics before I go to bed. I do one final check on the calendar before I plug in my phone for the night. I then get ready for bed, put the cats to bed (they also have a routine!) and proceed to do a 15-minute relaxing yoga routine, write in my journal and then read a bit. This has really helped me to get all of my thoughts, stresses, etc. out of my physical and mental body and be able to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep every night, which is supercritical.