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:
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,
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. :)
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.