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A Dedication to Industry Education

Leaders in the cable industry must demonstrate a renewed commitment to ongoing training and education in order to safeguard all that is special about our industry, such as the prevalent entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of its professionals.

The cable industry is not yet a mature industry. We're operating in an ever-changing landscape and a more competitive marketplace. The future seems bright, but it's not written in stone.

That's why I'm advocating an increased dedication to providing professional and leadership development opportunities for industry executives so that we can confidently pass the torch to emerging leaders. It is these leaders who will carry on the rich traditions, professionalism and innovations of the industry. There is a deep need for resources dedicated to educating professionals about our business — from marketing and customer service to management and engineering.

A truly unique resource available today — devoted to advancing marketing and management excellence in the cable business — is The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Educational Foundation. The foundation is committed to improving consumer satisfaction with cable television, new media and communication services by increasing the knowledge of all that create and deliver these services to consumers.

The foundation and its core initiative, the CTAM Executive Management Program at the Harvard Business School, are designed to help senior industry executives manage more effectively in a market-driven, consumer-focused environment.

CTAM U, as the program has been affectionately nicknamed, is an extraordinary learning opportunity for industry professionals. Indeed, there are scarce venues for professional development in this area.

The one-week program, which is relevant to cable operators as well as program network and technology executives, is built on an intensive, cable-specific curriculum, providing a series of world-class strategic learning opportunities. It's highly sophisticated, stretching the limits of the participants' knowledge and enhancing their skills.

Members of the Harvard Business School faculty have immersed themselves in our business, creating a blend of intense and stimulating experiences. In addition, there are several well-known and respected outside lecturers, and the networking among the graduates continues for years following participation in the program.

The faculty chair of the program is Harvard Business School assistant professor Tom Eisenmann, who has developed two new case studies for the 2002 class. The Scientific-Atlanta Inc. study describes the company's strategy for set-top boxes, and the Cox Communications Inc. study looks at Cox's decision to enter the residential phone business.

These case studies are simply examples of the rigorous collection of challenging courses tailored by professor Eisenmann and the faculty, in conjunction with CTAM, for the program.

SUPPORTING PROGRAMS

As part of the strong commitment to marketing and business education, we at Comcast thought it important to support the CTAM program, by way of an endowment, to help "fast-track" cable managers fulfill their potential.

Consequently, Ralph Roberts, Comcast Corp. and I chose to endow the Dan Aaron Lecture for Innovative Management, in honor of Dan Aaron, one of the three founders of Comcast.

Aaron, now retired, is widely known for his highly successful management of a growing company. Comcast leaders thought it was an appropriate way to honor Dan — who was truly an innovator in management and marketing in the cable industry.

The Dan Aaron lectures have been conducted at the CTAM program for four years. Lecturers have included Bob Miron, president of Advance/Newhouse Communications; Mark Coblitz, senior vice president of strategic planning for Comcast; Leo Hindery, Jr., former CEO of AT&T Broadband and current chairman and CEO of Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network; and Decker Anstrom, former president and CEO of The Weather Channel and current president and chief operating officer of Landmark Communications Inc.

The lectures have met Comcast's goals because we're presenting program participants with so many different perspectives on diverse, successful management styles.

For example, Bob Miron discussed how a family successfully ran a large enterprise; Hindery reviewed how he turned around a difficult situation at Tele-Communications Inc. while bringing so many positives to the industry from a leadership position; and Anstrom examined and contrasted his success in both the non-profit world of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the for-profit, competitive and commercially active Landmark Communications.

Overall, the participant feedback on the Dan Aaron lectures and on the CTAM program has been extremely positive. The Comcast alumni, in particular, tell me that the experience truly kicked their thinking and skills on business and marketing strategy into high gear.

MORE EDUCATION OPTIONS

There should be many more educational programs such as CTAM's because ongoing learning in the industry is invaluable to our future. Additional programs would supplement the great corporate programs many of our companies have already developed.

At Comcast, we've invested an increasing amount of attention and money in our training and strategic learning initiatives. Comcast University began as an outgrowth of Comcast leaders wanting to preserve and institutionalize the entrepreneurial culture as a way of doing business. In turn, we wanted to communicate the values of the company to our rising stars.

Through Comcast University, our executives regularly receive a high level of specialized, MBA-type training, which includes the history of the company, investor relations, deal-making strategies and our code of ethics. Additionally, there is exposure to job and industry-specific subjects. This sort of educational experience is training that would not otherwise be available — especially when married with exposure to the top leaders of the corporation.

Comcast is wholeheartedly committed to Comcast University and to other forms of continuing training and education for industry professionals. We consider ourselves a leader and model in strategic learning. I truly hope others will join me and current leaders of the industry's educational programs to support and increase cable learning opportunities. We have a great legacy to uphold. Let's not let it slip away.