Russell Schuster – The Power of Empathy and Community Engagement

image 123650291 2 scaled - Global Banking | FinanceRussell Schuster, a C-suite level executive with over 25 years of business experience, knows that success isn’t just about climbing corporate ladders – it’s about enabling frontline teams, inspiring collaboration, and creating an environment where customer service thrives.

Schuster is more than just a businessman, however – he’s an empathetic, compassionate citizen with serious leadership skills focused on making real change in the workplace and the community.

Schuster has fulfilled many roles over the past two decades that have taken him around the globe, eventually leading him back to his hometown in Ridgefield, CT. His leadership style is based on his many work experiences, and he’s been able to apply the practical knowledge and skills he gained to his team. From peddling Christmas trees in cold and rainy weather to traversing train tracks for an environmental cleanup company, he’s worked jobs that imparted lessons far beyond their job descriptions. Schuster chooses jobs with opportunities like accelerated growth, operational improvements, and safety performance. These opportunities tend to come as needed transformation, which requires a fresh team of executives and leaders.

He’s also a people person. One of the most important pieces of advice Schuster might give is to work hard and focus on building relationships because, in order to inspire people, one must be genuine. He prefers to be a visible leader who talks with everyone he meets and asks them questions about themselves and their key areas of focus.

Schuster is adept at recruiting individuals who resonate with the principles of servant leadership. His knack for hiring like-minded individuals who embody the essence of servant leadership shows his commitment to nurturing a culture that values those directly interfacing with customers. Through this intentional approach to hiring, Schuster demonstrates a commitment to a culture that prioritizes directly interacting with customers, valuing their contributions, and recognizing their pivotal role in organizational success.

Schuster also fosters an inclusive environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute. He advocates for continuous skill improvement through structured training. Beyond mandated safety and compliance courses, he ensures that each employee receives at least 40 hours of training annually to ensure his workforce has the evolving skills they need to navigate a dynamic landscape.

Schuster describes himself as very decisive and expects his team members to be the same way. Frontline employees, for example, should be empowered to make decisions related to customer service. Generally, people in business want to do what’s right, so unless the decision will break the company, Schuster feels strongly that employees should be able to act.

He also loves data and details. While some decision-making relies on following intuition, Schuster understands that a combination of these things – plus a discussion with teammates – usually gives them the answer.

A practical example of Schuster’s leadership is his experience consulting for a fashion design house in Florence, Italy. Schuster’s style is to move urgently, but he faced a cultural shift in which immediate action wasn’t the norm. He recalibrated his pace to align with the organization’s tempo. His adaptability was crucial to navigating diverse team dynamics.

Balancing innovation with established practices is another strength of Schuster’s. As a product manager at Aggreko, he spearheaded the creation of a groundbreaking “global chiller.” The chiller allowed asset utilization across regions. Whether cooling mines in Australia or transforming Mexico City’s Plaza de la Constitución into an ice-skating wonderland, the global chiller showed Schuster’s prowess in practical innovation.

Schuster’s commitment to excellence goes beyond work. Now that he’s permanently returned to Ridgefield, he wants to be more active with organizations making a difference. Schuster’s interest in philanthropy started after a year abroad in Argentina, which drove him to complete degrees in International Business and Spanish at High Point University.

He has since spent much of his time traveling around the globe, but still finds time in places he loves, like Crystal River, Florida (he loves manatees) or Sedona, Arizona, where he can get out into the desert and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Whether in California, Canada, or Texas or upon his return to Ridgefield, Schuster has found opportunities to lend a hand and lead by example. From youth soccer refereeing to aiding in NDSS Buddy Walks, assisting victims of natural disasters, and participating in charity events for cancer causes, his commitment to making a difference is unwavering. His desire to lead effectively and give back has never diminished, even as corporate relocations whisked him across various locales.

He’s eager to engage with ABC and glean insights from their experiences, which shows his willingness to learn and collaborate – believing that collective efforts yield more impact. In his letter to ABC of Ridgefield, penned in late 2020, Schuster noted his concerns about societal issues, particularly the persistence of racism. Driven by a fervent desire to help and learn, he’s sought avenues to contribute meaningfully. His involvement with A Better Chance of Ridgefield as a board member and generous contributions to various organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Club, Girl Scouts of America, Ridgefield Congregational Church, and cancer charities, underscore his dedication to effecting positive change.

Russell Schuster illustrates how the power of empathy and community engagement can transform the lives of others. His commitment to helping those locally and worldwide is a great example of what it means to be a compassionate citizen who’s poised to make a lasting difference.