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5/1/2013
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CIO Profiles: John Schanz Of Comcast Cable

Assumptions can kill an IT project, cautions Comcast’s tech chief.

Career Track



John Schanz, Executive VP and chief network officer, Comcast Cable

John Schanz
Executive VP and chief network officer, Comcast Cable

How long at Comcast Cable: More than six years at this cable company.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: My team and I created a single, converged network that provides a rich environment where we can develop products and services more seamlessly, speed time to market, manage capacity and contain costs.

Decision I wish I could do over: Early in my career, I signed a contract that ended up being a bad business decision. I was confident I had gathered all the data I needed, but I failed to gain the viewpoints of my fellow workers, so I missed some key information. Now I surround myself with the best and brightest individuals, and I hear them out. Diversity and collaboration provide the forum for the best decision-making.

On The Job


Size of IT team: 3,400 engineers and professional staff.

Top initiatives

  • We're delivering self-service options that let our customers control how and when they engage with us.
  • We're accelerating the creation of services and features by leveraging our converged network technologies with private cloud computing to deliver new products.

Vision


How I give my team room to innovate: We're creating a culture where calculated risks to disrupt the status quo are rewarded, regardless of whether the outcomes are successful (within reason). We've brought in new talent with different skill sets, and encouraged closer collaboration and experimentation across teams.

The most common cause when IT projects go wrong: IT projects can be derailed by assumptions. The engineering world can't create a plan and implement it in a silo anymore. We have to keep asking: Are we going down the path that fulfills customer expectation?

The most disruptive force for my industry is ... the cloud. Cable has been tied to customized and discrete physical equipment, such as set-top boxes. Today, we're moving to flexible software-driven and cloud-based environments.

Kids and technology: I didn't steer my kids into technology careers, but I have pushed them to pursue college majors with substance. My kids will make their own choices; I try to give them information to help them make good choices.

Personal


Degrees: Manhattan College, BE in electrical engineering

Tech vendor I respect most: John Chambers, who transformed Cisco, influenced how technology is used and set an example with community outreach

Best book read recently: Start With Why, by Simon Sinek

Person I'd most like to have lunch with: Colin Powell

Favorite app: CellarTracker, a wine app

Ranked No. 54 in the 2012 InformationWeek 500

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