It has been about a year since my life changed. In April of 2011, I saw a job posting on the Ektron web site for a Sales Engineer, and I thought I should go for it.
Now, at that point, I had been using the Ektron CMS platform for Canyon County, Idaho’s public and private websites for over three years, I was actively involved in the developer community, on both Twitter and the Ektron developer forums, and I was starting to be recognized. Because of my involvement in the developer community, I was asked to speak at Ektron’s Seattle Local Users Group meeting, and Bill Cava, Ektron’s Chief Evangelist, asked me to participate in a developer interview webinar (http://www.ektron.com/Resources/Webinars/Interview-With-Joe-Mayberry/)
The more I dealt with the folks at Ektron, the more impressed I was with the company, and the quality of people who worked there. I kept thinking that this would be a great place to work, so when I saw the Sales Engineer posting, I finally thought, “I can do that.” After all, I was already a client, and I could bring an informed perspective to the situation.
Before applying, I decided to reach out to friend I had made on Twitter, who had been in a very similar situation a couple of years earlier, and was now one of the most respected developers at Ektron. I asked for his opinion, and if life at Ektron was as good as I thought it would be. His answer surprised me. Not by what he did or didn’t say, but by the direction it went. He told me that the Sales Engineer job would be a great learning experience, but that he wasn’t sure if it was right for me, and that the group he was in had an opening.
It took a bit, a couple of telephone interviews, and what seemed like more emails than I can count, but they hired me. I was living the dream. I was doing work that I really enjoyed, working remotely, with some truly great people, and I learned. I learned how to push the Ektron CMS platform past anything I had ever thought of. And as we pushed it, I grew as well, and I was good at my job.
That’s when the dream changed.
Friday, March 30, 2012 started out just like any other. I went up to my office, a thermos of tea in hand, excited to build something cool. One of the first things I noticed was an email from Ektron’s CEO Bill Rogers, saying that there was a mandatory meeting in a couple of hours that I needed to call into. Being a remote worker, this wasn’t unheard of. A couple of my colleagues and I talked over instant message about it, wondering what was going on. We were curious, but not worried since we knew the company was doing really well.
When the meeting started, they got right to the point: Ektron was getting out of the services business, and we had lost our jobs, effective immediately. (You can read the official Ektron Corporate Update here: http://www.ektron.com/billrogersblog/Ektron-Corporate-Update/)
My dream had just become a nightmare.
Why did this happen? The company was doing really well, reporting a 35% rise in licensing over the last year, so why were they letting us go? More specifically, why were they letting me go? Hadn’t I been doing a good job?
A lot of people out there have probably disapproved and criticized Ektron and Bill Rogers for what they did, and how it was handled. I am not one of those people.
This wasn’t a personal decision. It was a business decision. Bill had decided to take the company in a new direction, which didn’t include us. He made the decision for what he believes to be for the betterment of his company, and only time will tell if he was right or not. Personally, I think he will be proved right.
I imagine that the decision to let so many of us go was a difficult one, at least I hope it was. Changing so many lives so suddenly should be a hard decision, and not one to do on a whim. A person or company that can do that easily is not one I want to work with.
Getting fired over the phone isn’t ideal, but what is? They had people spread out across the country, in offices and remote locations like me. How else were they supposed to do it? By email? This was probably the most conscientious way that it could have been done, given the circumstances.
So there I was, feeling betrayed, confused and lost; alternating between fear, anger, and disbelief so quickly that a manic-depressive on crack, riding a roller-coaster would have had a hard time keeping up with my emotions.
But the story does have a happy ending and a new beginning.
I quickly reached out on Twitter and Linkedin, letting people know that I had just lost my job, and asking if anyone knew of any positions available. The response was fast and overwhelming. It turns out that .Net developers with Ektron experience are very desirable. I quickly had an interview and a job offer with WSOL that I was happy to accept, and I start work in a few days.
I used to tell people that my job with Ektron was the one that Twitter helped me get, which is true, but I don’t think I would have gotten this new one as quickly as I did without being a presence on the social media platforms, or without the time I spent at Ektron.
I will always appreciate my time at Ektron, and getting to know the people that work there. It is a great company, with a good product, and spectacular people. I am still sad that I won’t be working there anymore, but that part of my life is over, and a new one is just getting started.