I’ve never been a fan of the “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” line of thinking. I’ve always felt that it diminishes the importance of education and overweights the value of networking and connections.

What’s better, from my point of view, is maintaining a healthy balance between both factors: build a base of subject matter knowledge and practice thinking in order to be valued for your own expertise, while attracting allies who can provide the support required to execute on your vision.

Ever since SCTE took the lead in energy management for cable telecommunications, we’ve been fortunate to have the support of some of the industry’s most notable executives. Dan Cooper and Dave Flessas from Time Warner Cable, Kevin Hart and Steve Bradley from Cox and Mark Coblitz from Comcast – not to mention the brain trusts at NCTA and CableLabs – all have helped turn our vision into reality.

Beginning July 1, John Schanz, executive vice president and chief network officer for Comcast, will become the company’s liaison for energy management issues, replacing Mark Coblitz.

Mark and I have shared a passion for the science, technology and business issues around smarter networks for close two decades. As a friend and colleague, I’ll miss working with Mark, but I’m looking forward to working more closely with John moving forward. We expect this transition to be smooth at Comcast since John has been actively supporting Mark behind the scenes with our SEMI efforts.

Mark has been an important advocate for energy management as an essential ingredient in sustaining the industry’s growth. When he keynoted our SEMI (Smart Energy Management Initiative) Forum last year in Philadelphia, he framed succinctly the overriding question for the industry: “Am I willing to bet my business that, in the face of these huge growing demands for bandwidth and energy, the power will be there when I need it?”

John is joining us at an opportune time as we are moving to the operational phase of our energy program. Working with Dan and others, he’s accepted the challenge of driving vendor participation that will satisfy three key needs: better energy management within our facilities and plant and improvement of density for products within that infrastructure while simultaneously improving performance for those products. John will be working on this behind the scenes and more visibly at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo this fall and as part of our SEMI program next year.

It’s no small task. As Mark noted more than a year ago, the availability of energy is essential to ensuring the unobstructed rollout of the new services that are on cable’s roadmap. There’s an urgent need for cable operators, programmers and vendors to align specifications for the design, purchase and installation of facilities and equipment.

The industry is planning today for the energy-efficient network of tomorrow. The SCTE Standards Program is on track to influence the design of products that will come to market over the next several years. A battery of standards are underway, including those for Adapative Power Systems Interface Specifications (APSIS) that enable power to fluctuate to meet service demands, as well as for Predictive Alarming solutions. Vendors like Alpha Technologies are helping all of us up our games with training resources like our select DC Power course (www.scteorg/dcpower) later this month.

As chairman of our Sustainability Management Subcommittee (SMS), Dan Cooper has done a fabulous job creating and executing on the industry’s energy standards roadmap. Here’s where John fits in: He’ll be working with vendors to drive the creation of products that incorporate those new standards to meet the industry’s long-term needs.

For us, it’s a logical transition from one leader to another. Mark Coblitz’s strategic thinking helped shape the business case around energy management; John’s skills are well suited to continue that work. Like the other advocates we’re fortunate to have on our team, John and Mark understand the importance of energy management as a business strategy – not just as an environmental initiative – to cable.

In the years since we launched SEMI, I’ve been pleased at the tremendous strides that have been taken by SCTE and the industry. The awareness, the technical achievement and the momentum that has been generated is moving cable toward a future in which energy costs are controlled and energy supplies are sufficient.

I’m grateful to Mark Coblitz and the rest of the team that has gotten us there, and look forward to working with John Schanz to continue that momentum.