Gayle S. Rose
Seven years ago, two young engineers approached Gayle Rose about a business model for a company they wanted to start up. “I looked at it as a potential opportunity,” says Rose, “and decided to invest in it.”
Electronic Vaulting Services, now known as EVS Corporation, began in 2005 as a pioneer in data backup and disaster recovery, otherwise known as cloud backup. Basically, all of the computer infrastructure of the different businesses EVS serves is kept encrypted and safe in the company’s data center, and accessed through the Internet. A convergence of the availability of broadband network with lesser expensive storage made the idea behind EVS possible as a successful business model.
“One of our first big clients was First Tennessee Bank,” says Rose. “It was part of our intention to build a business that, out of the starting gate, was enterprise-class. When we landed the contract, First Tennessee made it a requirement that I be the CEO and stay involved, not just as a passive investor. So that’s how it happened, and it was welcomed by everybody.”
It’s just the latest step in a remarkable life journey that began in Iowa, where Rose — an accomplished clarinetist — earned a degree in music from the University of Northern Iowa, followed by a Littauer Fellowship at Harvard Business School.
Rose sees her role as CEO as intrinsic to business in forming clear, focused organizations where everyone knows exactly what his or her role is. But at the same time, she’s worked hard to create what she calls a “culture of candor,” an environment where people feel that it’s okay to tell you what you might not want to hear.
Prior to joining EVS, Rose served as managing director of a private equity, corporate advisory firm with offices in Atlanta and Memphis. She also co-founded and served as president and CEO of the dual nonprofit and publishing company of Dr. Deepak Chopra, the world-renowned expert on mind-body medicine. Involved in numerous charitable and civic organizations in Memphis, she serves as chairman of the Rose Family Foundations private charity, and is co-founder of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis.
“I thought there was so much opportunity here to make a difference, and I had the same kind of attitude about EVS that I had about Memphis — that it’s sort of a laboratory for trying to figure out how to improve people’s lives,” she says.
Initially, Rose’s start-up served only regional businesses. But the tech experts — one of them is Chris Chu — figured out how to service a company out of the region, and now EVS works on a global scale with customers in Canada, New York, and the West Coast; some have operations in China, Brazil, Ireland, and London.
EVS continues to develop new technologies to help businesses recover their data faster. The company launched the first phase of its disaster recovery solutions in 2011 and a new, speedier version will be coming out this year.
“In 2008, everything collapsed from the economic standpoint, and it was a very difficult time,” says Rose. But EVS survived that challenging period by “keeping our nose down, knowing who to talk to, and lots of team communication,” she adds. “At this point we’re just starting to have fun, and looking forward to continuing to grow.”
NAME: Gayle S. Rose
COMPANY: EVS Corporation
ADDRESS: 5050 Poplar Avenue, Suite 1600
SERVICES PROVIDED: Cloud backup, data storage, and disaster recovery
How Long With Company: Since the beginning
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 18
WHAT MAKES A GOOD CEO: “Not just IQ, but emotional intelligence, the ability to understand not only your own emotional makeup, but that of those that you’re asking to be a part of the team.”