Name: Shane Cook
Title: Director of Water Pollution Control
Family: Wife Emily, daughters Savannah (16), Ava (13), Elainah (8)
Education: Bibb Graves High in Clay County (Ala.), Associates Degree in Industrial Electricity from Calhoun Community College; BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Alabama
Background: Came to City of Huntsville 12 years ago as collection system engineer for sewer department. Had been in consulting and design world for 10 years before joining City, being brought in to oversee $50 million sewer renovations.
What You Didn’t Know: Trained hunting dogs for years. “I’m out of that business until my daughters are grown.”
Cook On Leadership: “Sometimes department heads might not think something is the best for their departments, but it might be the best thing overall for the city. The administration is always looking at broader views than we are as department heads, so we should execute that view to the best of our abilities for the betterment of the city.
We need to recognize skills and skill-sets, or lack of them. We’re in a municipal setting and sometimes people equate years of experience as the most important thing. But it’s the skill-set that makes the employee. They write books about great young men and women who do good things early in their careers. Don’t just look at how long a person has executed a job but rather how they perform or could perform given the chance.
I try to put people around me with skills sets that make up for my weakness. You have to look at their capabilities. You can’t put a square peg in a round hole. For example, if you have someone interacting with the public, it is imperative that they have the personality for it.
Sometimes we’re doing things that might not be the most efficient way, only because we’ve always done it that way. Don’t be afraid to question why and how we do things. Evolution is necessary. I don’t always like it. Sometimes I’d rather say I want to do it the same way I always have. But when I step back and look at things, I realize we need to evolve. Look at everything and figure out what can evolve, because if you don’t, you will get left behind.”
‘My views on leadership’ is a regular CityBlog series highlighting City of Huntsville Department Heads and their leadership style.