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Chief Information Officer, Sean McCormack, on National Innovation Day
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Chief Information Officer, Sean McCormack, on National Innovation Day

FirstAlt Innovation

Today is National Innovation Day and we sat down with Sean McCormack, First Student’s Chief Innovation Officer, to ask him about innovation that is happening at First Student and how it affects the employees, districts, students and parents.

QUESTION: Sean, what did you see at First Student that made you want to join the organization?

ANSWER: I was really excited to join First Student because they’ve demonstrated an ongoing commitment to innovation. We lead the industry when it comes to digital products and capabilities, and we’re continually looking for ways to improve them. Good examples would be DriverScore, an analytics platform we use to positively gamify driver safety; TrainerHub, a tablet-based training product we use to streamline the driver training process; and testing new capabilities, such as technologies to prevent collisions.

QUESTION: How are you enabling innovation on behalf of First Student?

ANSWER: For innovation to be sustainable and make an impact, it has to be intentional. We are casting a wide net to bring in ideas, and then running them through a rapid process with the goal of failing fast or promoting fast. In my experience, we’ll often try an idea to solve Problem A, only to find out it actually solves Problem B, or opens up a completely new capability we hadn’t thought about before. Which is why it’s so important to allow ideas to come from different venues – customers, employees, vendors, innovation challenges, etc.

QUESTION: What’s a good example of a recent First Student innovation?

ANSWER: A great example of a recent innovation launch is FirstAlt. FirstAlt provides districts with a safe and reliable transportation option for students with special needs, students experiencing homelessness, out of district students, and hard to serve trips. To launch the FirstAlt capability, we completely reimagined how alternative transportation should operate, with technology at the core. Drivers have a mobile app that they use to onboard and service students daily. Our FirstAlt employees have a suite of digital applications they use to manage service providers and drivers, plan routes and oversee daily operations. We now have capabilities that no one else in the industry does – and it’s a game changer. It’s a great example of leveraging technology to create value for our customers in a completely new way.

QUESTION: What are your long-term plans for First Student and how do you see the organization evolving over the next 5 years?

ANSWER: Five years from now, I want our customers to view us as a company that’s leading innovation and leveraging technology to deliver superior capabilities and services.

Sean McCormack Headshot

About Sean McCormack

Sean McCormack is the Chief Innovation Officer at First Student and is responsible for shaping and establishing technology capabilities and strategies and enhance technology, data security, and third-party management to build innovative products and services.

Sean has more than 20 years of experience in leadership roles in a broad range of initiatives, including global technology integration, development of proprietary digital platforms, and implementation of large-scale system improvements.