Open Mic: The value of learning through an SCTE chapter

Tue, 06/30/2009 - 8:15pm
Tom Gorman, SCTE board chairman and vice president of field operations for Charter Communications

Joining your local chapter also affords the opportunity to serve on a local
board of directors and chart the course for the chapter’s
planning of training events.

Training exists in every organization in our industry. Your company’s initiatives, new service deployments, your supervisor’s goals and our industry’s news are all critical items to communicate. On any given day, at any cable operator’s tech center, training is going on for: Tom Gormansafety, competition, VoIP, SDV, tru2way, HD, new sales incentives, customer service, how to use reports, Cable 101, etc.

Does the list look familiar? Is there a way to grasp it all and store it? There’s a lot of it! As a matter of fact, training is so commonplace that we’ve forgotten an important element: learning. What causes learning to occur? Is it interest in the subject matter, interest in what it will lead to, or just brute force information that is partially absorbed through osmosis? Is all of that information being absorbed? Better yet, is all of that information being retained and used?

I would think that with all of the information coming your way, that a means to absorb this information is by considering the implications. It’s a new way to handle the term WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). When considering upcoming activities (some are in place in some markets) such as switched digital video, all-digital platforms, IP video and numerous tru2way applications, the implications reach all ends of your company. This is where being involved in a local SCTE chapter can be of great benefit.

Last year, the nearly 70 chapters in the U.S. and Canada held 365 training seminars, with an average attendance of 25 people. (For you mathematicians, that’s reaching nearly 10,000 techs, engineers and installers with the latest information on the newest technologies, how to deploy them and how to maintain them.) Chapters held sessions on deploying business services, using OSS to manage networks, what it takes to design a switched digital video platform for your headend, as well as safety, installation and service primers.

The implications of joining your local chapter go beyond being able to learn and grow through seminars. It also affords the opportunity to serve on a local board of directors and chart the course for the chapter’s planning of training events. Does your company desire to reduce truck rolls? Plan that session on techniques for troubleshooting and send your techs. Are you interested in power supply monitoring? Invite the companies that provide solutions and ask them to educate the attendees on what it takes to do such a deployment. The opportunities are limitless.

Speaking of chapter board involvement, it was great to see nearly 150 chapter leaders from across the U.S. and Canada attend the 2009 SCTE Chapter Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City. This annual event helps them to sharpen their skills in order to run a good chapter that provides great value to its members. But what also occurs is they are learning business skills that will help them in their careers. How to plan sessions, how to hold successful board meetings, and understanding the roles and responsibilities of each officer are but a few of the things learned that will help them in career growth.

So back to implications: The implications of involvement are many. You can meet with your peers and discuss the latest operational and technology issues. You can grow as a leader by being involved in your chapter’s board of directors. You can send the people who will be learning because they understand the implications of a particular topic. I think the best thing about being involved is that you can also present material at a seminar. What a great place to hone your own presentation skills – another plus for career development. And on it goes.

That’s 365 seminars in one year – daily value being provided to members, operators and vendors. Not sure what chapter to attend? Go to to find out which one is closest to you. I look forward to seeing you at one of them!


Next month, Jason Schnitzer, founder and principal of
Applied Broadband, will write about IPDR/DOCSIS 3.0.

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