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Taxing Work for a Rowdy Racker Taxing Work for a Rowdy Racker

Chris Rosas ’00, M.B.A. ’02, is the global tax director for Rackspace Hosting, Inc. The cloud-computing and Web-hosting company is known for its unconventional workspace, which features a spiral slide, video games and pool tables.
Photos by Patrick Ray Dunn

Taxing Work for a Rowdy Racker

Chris Rosas knows his strengths. They’re listed on the back of his work ID badge for Rackspace Hosting, Inc.

There’s Arranger, the trait that means organization, despite his currently cluttered cubicle desk. Then there’s Restorative, which marks him as someone who likes to fix things. Responsible predictably pegs him as someone who takes personal responsibility for his work. Relator means he identifies with people.

Finally, there’s Developer. That’s the one he really connects with.

“I like to teach people,” he said. “I like to mentor them. I like to see them grow.”

As the global tax director for Rackspace, he oversees a team of 13 people who all make sure tax authorities are happy and that the cloud-computing and Web-hosting company is compliant and protected.

“So if you want to manufacture something or you want to provide a service that you sell from the U.S., and you have a data center in the U.K., and you’re selling to a customer in India, how do you tax that? Does it get taxed once or three times? That’s what we figure out,” he said.

When Rosas signed on with Rackspace three years ago, he went through a required assessment that ranked his top five skills. Like all employees, they are listed on his employee badge.

Shortly after he was hired, Rosas started an internship program in his department. Soon, other groups within Rackspace were following his lead and implementing their own internship programs. Incidentally, everyone who has been hired as an intern under Rosas has been a Roadrunner. And there are now so many alumni working for Rackspace, Rosas and the rest are referred to as Roadrunner Rackers.

“I love bringing in new people and teaching them and giving them a real-life perspective of what they are going to be working on so they can make an informed decision about what they want for their career,” he said. “People can show up here and really hate tax. They could love Rackspace, but at the end of the day they’re still doing taxes. So I want to at least give students some real-life exposure.”

And it takes a special breed of people, he admitted, to love working on the intricacies of international tax.

“Your day starts when Europe wakes up and your day is done when Asia finishes,” he said. “When you wake up, your email box is already full from Europe. They come online at 2 or 3 a.m. our time. If you wake up at 7 a.m., they’ve already had a full productive morning. Then Asia comes on at 6 p.m., when you’re at the end of the day and you’re trying to wind down. And the emails start coming again from the other side of the world.”

His goal after graduating from UTSA was to find a job, any job, and pay off his student loans. But along the way, he met employers who encouraged him to continue in the field, urged him to work hard, and lined up jobs that would give him the experience he needed to be competitive.

Today, it’s his turn to pay it forward, he said.

“If you’re a parent and one of these interns was your kid, wouldn’t you want somebody out there looking out for them? If no one had done that for me, I wouldn’t be where I am,” he said. “Who knows? Some of these interns may be my boss someday. They’ll be nice to me.

“I just think I have a perspective that can help them, and if I don’t take the opportunity to do it, what good am I?”

After all, he is a Developer. It’s right there on his badge.

–Lety Laurel


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