Building Cable's Better Mousetraps


What's next for the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers? Mark Dzuban, the association's recently appointed president and CEO, believes there are “better mousetraps to build.” He spoke earlier this month with Multichannel News technology editor Todd Spangler.

MCN: What have you learned in your first four months on the job?

Mark Dzuban: The most important was my clarity of mission. I laid out a timetable; I like to keep things organized around time — it's about execution.

We're building on a foundation of 40 years of good history, and the question was, “What do we need to do to launch the next 40? Is the SCTE constituency really what it needs to be?”

I've been challenging our people to think about what can SCTE be, not what we're limited to. We want to build the best vision to be practical about delivering the technology skills, best practices and forums and do that in a scale that is most impactful for our members.

MCN: How would you summarize your vision for SCTE?

MD: If I look at what I've learned — and a lot of it has been listening — about the whole soup-to-nuts, from the field to headends, I think there are better mousetraps to build.

I see the pyramid [of our constituencies] building out that is much more diverse. It's going to include IT [information technology] and IP [Internet protocol], and we'll be building out the evolution of our business. It's not just HFC [hybrid fiber coax], which is a very important part of the equation… but we have to adapt to changes in technology.

MCN: When you say 'IT and IP,' what does that mean on a practical level?

MD: A lot of our constituency is an analog work force. It will be a holistic network in time … so the question becomes, How do we build that to scale to continue to support the evolution of those networks proactively?

One approach is the bloody-nose strategy — after the fact, trying to figure it out. The other is proactive, to let me develop the skills of my people, optimize my capital expenditures and operations.

MCN: What were your impressions of SCTE before you came on board?

MD: The impressions were pretty clear. Let me be candid: There's 40 years of very good history here. But I'm here for a purpose … you have leadership brought on to do very specific things at specific points in time.

I believe this is the renaissance for traditional engineering. I believe SCTE's success is in creating value so that everything can benefit a company's bottom line. I call it the business of engineering — it's effective business management in an engineering environment.

I think from an SCTE perspective, a broader stroke of engineering skills is necessary. So the eyes and ears of the technical practitioner can say, when you're outside the playbook, logically what is the right action so that won't impact the customer experience.

MCN: What do you consider SCTE's biggest achievement?

MD: If you look over 40 years, SCTE has continued to be a workhorse for the industry's work force that's out there every day to optimize the business.

Is there room for growth? Absolutely. The truth is, though, there are organizations that come and go, and we're still here.

When I look at the institution, there's a great history. This is like a fraternity or a sorority — it's an organization unlike many others. There's a passion among many of our members that is unique and is a tribute to the organization.