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A Closer Look: Shayne Huston


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Is director of global innovation and research a new position for CDS Global Inc.?

Yeah, it’s a new department. It’s not that CDS hasn’t always been innovative; it’s actually how we started out as a company. We really believe innovation is everybody. We’re just a dedicated group who get to focus our time on it. We get that luxury of being able to look at brand-new things and figure out how to find new growth opportunities and making the company healthier.

How big is the group?

Right now it’s just three people. And again, it goes back to involvement, so we have an innovation council that actually has representation from our offices in the U.K. and Canada and people here at this facility, and then we are making sure we’re involving all our locations in the U.S.

What is driving this change?

Lots of different things. The economy. Our clients’ roles are changing, so how do we make sure we can help them change? How do we make ourselves change? What are some of the new services we can provide?

What’s your top priority?

You see in the news there’s lots of things like e-readers and mobile. So there’s quite a bit of our focus looking at that as well. And actually, we have two things that we’re going after. One being what are the things that are still connected to us but a little more future-type items, and what innovative things can we do with the things we already do. A lot of times, innovations can just be hooking two processes together that were never considered before, partly because they were never done at the same location.

How did you get into this?

I’ve worked in different areas and worked in different companies. Lockheed Martin (Corp.), Cherokee Nation. HON Industries (Inc.) here in Iowa as well. I actually worked for CDS twice. But I like new things; I’m always after those new things. Other people say if you just go in my office, you’ll see I’m an early adopter of technology. Normally I have multiple devices with me: Bluetooth, wireless headsets, those types of things.

What’s the biggest challenge?

Probably time. There are a lot of good ideas. Being able to have the time to do that. It’s great that we have a team of three people – it definitely would be a lot harder if we only had one person doing it – but also it’s just as important to make sure you’re focused. Don’t get too many projects going on, because then you’re splitting a lot of resources. It would be better to group resources to get the projects done quicker.

What’s your most memorable career experience?

Probably one I feel really good about is being able to develop a system that no one else has produced and having it out there as the only system that can do it for a year. We were the only ones in the country and what we were dealing with was standard-class mail. We were the only ones who could sort it on machinery. It feels good when you have that edge. I helped write that software.

Is this a 9-to-5 job for you?

It’s a lot more than that. Because we’re just launching right now, it’s extremely busy, so it’s definitely more than a 40-hour-a-week job. But when you’re really passionate about something you’re doing, you don’t think about that part; you just have fun doing it.

What’s your one escape?

Still in front of a computer but doing some online gaming, watch movies, remodel the house.

Do you have a favorite online game?

Probably World of Warcraft. My kids are actually the ones who got (my wife and me) into it. There are just so many nuances to it; it just kind of captures you in.

What is one word to describe yourself?

I’d say energetic. To me, part of the role of a manager and a leader is actually to generate energy and that’s part of what the innovation process is. That’s one of the reasons why we want such a high involvement. We want to help people generate energy so you’re sitting around talking about ideas; we’re almost trying to make it viral.

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