Where in the world is Laura Whalen? Laura talks about her departure from Citrix...

Many of us know Laura Whalen as the person who manages Citrix's relationship with the community, drives the Citrix CTP group, technical user groups, and independent Geek Speak events around the world. She can be found at pretty much any community event that involves Citrix, including, of course, BriForum.

Many of us know Laura Whalen as the person who manages Citrix's relationship with the community, drives the Citrix CTP group, technical user groups, and independent Geek Speak events around the world. She can be found at pretty much any community event that involves Citrix, including, of course, BriForum. Last week I was approached by someone in Denver asking me if I knew how to get in touch with Laura (presumably to apply for the CTP program). When I replied that she was looking for a job, I realized that the person didn't know that Laura was no longer with Citrix (oops!).

A few weeks ago, those of us in the CTP program were made aware that she had left and that a blog post from her would be posted as a formal good-bye to Citrix and announcement to the community, but that blog post was never made. In fact, besides a bounced email message from her Citrix account stating "this email address is no longer in service," I couldn't find anything public about Laura leaving Citrix, so I thought I'd bring it up here. The circumstances surrounding her departure are not known to any authoritative degree, but it's worth mentioning that at one point a few years ago, Laura was let go and quickly re-hired after some internal executive backlash. Given the abrupt nature and lack of information, I'm wondering if something similar hasn't happened again.

I reached out to Laura and asked her what was going on and why there was no blog post, and this is her response:

Well, to tell you the truth I was planning to publish that post on my Citrix blog on my last day. My new team had requested I write the post as part of our “official communication plan” about my separation from the company and approved my words in advance. After I finished delivering all of my program plans and other details to help them / Citrix move forward, I received an email thanking me for my service at the company and letting me know that they decided not to allow me to publish the post I wrote after all. This is what I was planning to post:

Community Friends,
Today with mixed feelings I am turning the proverbial page to a new chapter in my career:  I am parting ways with Citrix.
During my eight-year tenure at Citrix, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and contribute to several internal and external organizations and meet smart, inspiring people around the world. 
Although each segment of my career has brought me exciting challenges, interesting experiences, strong friendships, and notable memories, no role has been as rewarding as the one I crafted and have held for the past five years, and no goal has felt as close to my life’s work: to foster and empower our community, and to envision, develop, drive, and grow the Citrix Community Programs from grassroots to world-class. 
I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to define and fill this role for the past few years, most of all because I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with many of you, both in person and online, and getting to know you even better through your amazing professional contributions. I hope to cross paths with you again in the near future.
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." — Dr. Seuss
All my best,
Laura Whalen
Twitter: @Laura_Whalen
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lwhalen
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lauraewhalen
My new blog is http://laurawhalen.wordpress.com

That's the post I wasn't permitted to share on my Citrix blog, but now I'd also like my community friends to rest assured that I won’t allow the present circumstances to halt our momentum in terms of what we've all been working towards in our own unique ways: connecting with likeminded thought leaders and experts to altruistically share knowledge and collaborate --both publicly and privately-- in an effort to collectively drive the evolution of IT by bringing the (virtualization, networking and cloud) industry to the next level. 

Please let them know that I'd appreciate hearing any and all thoughts they might have on how we can make this happen. I've had some time to think about it myself in the past few days and I have some pretty nifty ideas to share, as well. Let's continue to keep it real.  :) 

Laura

Needless to say, Laura will be missed as leader of the Citrix community and CTP group. In spite of Citrix's best efforts to use the CTP group as an arm of the marketing department, Laura did her best to keep Citrix honest and maintain the program's validity, meeting the needs of both the CTPs and Citrix by letting us in on roadmaps, giving us access to the people that create the products, and providing an open forum for the CTPs and Citrites to discuss the technologies in a technical, candid way.

Our position (Brian and I) in the CTP program is a bit different than anyone else's because we're bloggers and are programmed to write about what we know. Having access to NDA information while still needing to write about desktop virtualization technology is like walking a tight rope, and Laura understood that - and us. In fact, she took time to understand each person's unique role in the community, which is why the CTP program and Geek Speak content are so comprehensive and varied.

We may never know the actual story as to why Laura left Citrix, but two things are certain. First, Laura's passion and genuine personality will be an asset to some company, somewhere that needs to develop a community engagement strategy. And second, Citrix has some big shoes to fill with whoever they hire to replace her. The job posting for a Community Programs Manager on Citrix.com essentially describes Laura, and we can only hope that she is replaced by, well, someone just like her.

We'll get our first glimpse of life after Laura in a few weeks at Citrix Synergy in Barcelona. We should know pretty quickly whether or not the programs she drove will take a hit. I'm personally on the lookout for too much marketing, or, to put it into familiar community terms: all foam and no beer - i.e., what these events were like before Laura got involved.

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That Monday was a sad day for me personally. I'm sure that we will soon hear good news from Laura :)


As for CTP Program, I hope it will never turn into just a funny blue logo that can be placed in the header of the blog.


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She is missed, but with her talents and abilities she will most certainly do great things!!


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Good post, thanx for sharing Gabe :-)


I am sure Laura will be back on the community turf in no time, we should start a poll on who picks her up though :-) or who she picks :-)


/René


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I have tried to write this comment, like, 10 times and have not seemed to be able to find the right phraseology. Essentially I’m trying to follow Laura’s advice and listen to Dr Seuss. It’s difficult..


I’ve said this before but, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever met anyone in the IT industry (and I’ve been around a while) who is universally more respected by her peers than Laura. She is simply able to connect with the most technical people who, under ‘normal’ circumstances would bury themselves in their work in isolation. This has resulted in an enormous degree of knowledge sharing within the community, with a focus around Citrix (because that’s where she was).


She has had such a significant impact on the community which has reflected extremely positively on Citrix in the past but, I’m pretty sure that even people at her own (former) employers simply do not understand the value this brought to the organisation – it’s completely immeasurable.


Implementations worked better, solutions were developed faster. Technical issues were resolved more effectively…why…because Citrix had this catalyst personality which got the right people communicating more effectively. Particularly in face-to-face situations Laura is able to generate some really passionate conversations around topics that she knows she doesn’t have the answer to but she’s perfectly able to instigate the right conversations with the right people who do, from across the globe.


Why is she so good at this? Simple. We trust her.


Not the blind trust of the naïve but the earned trust that she has proved she is not going to raise her eyebrows at this techno-chat & let the geeks get on with it, while she asks them to talk about the next new marketing push. She understands what these geeks are saying; understands what they need and what they don’t because she is one too.


It is not Laura who has had the luck over these years. It has been Citrix. The luck is now with wherever Laura has gone. Well done to them for gaining a truly unique contributor and proud-to-be geek


I could write pages and pages but I won’t. I’ll just end on some more Dr Seuss for Laura:


“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you'll move mountains.”


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Happy Birthday Laura. By the way :-)


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Being a part of the CTP program has been the highlight of my career and Laura was at the center of all of it.  As Chris stated, she had the trust of some very smart people who are not exactly “glass half full” types.  


I also have struggled to find words that can adequately describe her contribution to the Citrix community.  


Suffice it to say, I look forward to supporting Laura in her next endeavor.  


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As I read these bad news I thought about like Chris, how to find the right words for a tribute to Laura. I can't say better than Chris that Laura's contribution and her spirit inspired me to be a Citrix geek even in hard times when Citrix product versions 1.0 sucked. She is one of a few persons in the world, which you can't easily replace with just another. I'm not sure who lost more by this move, the community or Citrix. At the end both will miss the charming, geeky girl pushing the community to be the most active and respected in the vendor's world.


We will miss her so much and I hope that wherever she moves to, we'll be able to enjoy her charisma again.


Good luck Laura...


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I think the sentiments expressed here would pretty much sum up what I would have to say as well.  As a former CTP (and one that was not as technical as my other CTP colleagues), Laura made me feel welcome even with my more strategic perspectives on things. She made that program what it is today her hard work and dedication to the community and Citrix was better for having her there.  I wish Laura all the best in her new endeavors and I know that she is comforted after departing Citrix by all the well-wishes she has received here and on other mediums.  Good Luck to you Laura!!


Cheers


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I loved working with Laura at Citrix. I respected the way she handled the CTP program and even upon my departure she took me aside and told me what I would need to do if I wanted to apply for the program as an outsider.


Her combination of professionalism and wit always ensured the Geek Speak events at Synergy were the highlight of many attendees and measurably increased participation and engagement in the conference.


She's a brilliant social strategist, can hold her own as a geek, and is an expert at creating highly engaging events. Her only flaw is that she won't move to the Bay Area :) Zing!


-Tal


(former Director of Technical Marketing @ Citrix)


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I'm a bit late on hearing this news. That being said, Laura will be missed at Citrix. All of my interactions with her were always very pleasant and fun. Hopefuly she'll find a home at another company and make an equal, if not greater, impact there.


Obviously we don't know the circumstances of the departure but I have a feeling Citrix will regret losing her(if they don't already).


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