Saying Good-bye to WebCT

Dear Colleagues–

The time has come to say good-bye.  I can honestly say I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be, even though, in its way, it’s been coming for a long time.

A huge part of what I am has been determined by what I have learned from all of you—about customers, about sales, about service, about support, about technology, about finance, about how to take the fuzziest of notions and turn it into a product and explain it to a market, about how to run a company, and most of all, about how to be in the world. More than anything else, I want to thank you for that.

Many of you have been kind enough to drop me notes about what working at WebCT has meant to you.

Some of you have talked about the company.  Kathy Vieira taught me that the heart and soul of any services organization, the magic confidence that enables consultants to go out and do their jobs, comes from knowing that someone has always got your back.  That’s the way I felt at WebCT.  I knew I lived in a strong and supportive network of people I could count on, who put the customers’ interests before their own, pulled together as a team, and always, always watched each other’s backs.

Others of you have talked about the opportunity we have had to change the world.  It’s hard to travel back 10 years and imagine a time when the most exciting content accessible on a university’s network was the menu for the dining hall–or back to a time when many people told Carol and I this notion would never stick or grow because college professors would never, ever touch technology. 

I find it overwhelming to think about the change we’ve seen in global terms.  I find it easier to think in terms of a story Lisa Philpott and Sarah Burke included in the IMPACT 2005 keynote about a middle-aged man who displayed such talent and compassion at the hospice while caring for his dying wife that the workers there urged him to change careers and become a healthcare practitioner.  He made the change while working and caring for his daughter, and never set foot on campus until the day he graduated as valedictorian of his class.  When Sarah interviewed him, he said that what made him proudest was that working at home in the evening on his computer, he was able to model for his daughter the skills, eagerness to learn and work ethic he believed she would need in her own life.  When he returned from graduation, she had created a Powerpoint presentation to offer her congratulations.

That is the sea change we have been a part of.  All of us.  And I hope each of you takes pride in your own contribution.

I want to wish every one of you the very best wherever life takes you from here. Please do not hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of any help.

7 thoughts on “Saying Good-bye to WebCT

  1. “We don’t do any of that 70’s team building bullshit”
    “What I love about Barb Ross”

    Over the past four years I had the honor of working with Barb on a number of occasions and hopefully will again in the future. Her ability to quickly orient a person to the background of a situation and set the stage for action always inspired me to aim for such directness in my self.

    Part of her skill in being direct is her command of the English language. Not one to mince words, she always seemed to have just the right phrase to capture the complexity of a situation in a few sentences and render it accessible.

    In the back pages of the notebooks I used over the years, I wrote the vocabulary words Barb used (in normal conversation) that I needed to look up after our meetings. Here are a few I am willing to admit I had to clarify. Looking back, I tried to remember the context these words came up in….it was not hard….

    Exigent – requiring immediate action or aid
    Validictorial – of or pertaining to an occasion of leave-taking
    Parlance – speech, esp. a formal discussion or debate
    Progenitor – a person or thing that first indicates a direction, originates something, or serves as a model; predecessor; precursor
    Vestigial – describing a surviving evidence or remainder of some condition
    Complicitous – related to being an accomplice; partnership or involvement in wrongdoing
    Pablum – trite, naive, or simplistic ideas or writings; intellectual pap
    Nascent – beginning to exist or develop
    Nefarious – extremely wicked or villainous

    Barb, I will miss you!

  2. Barb,
    You have been a true inspiration in both my professional and personal life during our time at WebCT. Your care and attention to WebCT employees and customers is truly amazing. You have been a true leader, problem solver, peace keeper, mentor and friend to many of us- THANK YOU! We have shared many laughs together:) As you embark upon your next adventure, I wish you much success and happiness. WebCT was a wonderful place- because of all your contributions! I will miss you too!

  3. The Grump isn’t familiar with these Blog things, but thinks he should make some kind of comment. He is very pleased with the depth and wisdom of your messages. Where are you going from here? Will this be full time? I think daytime TV might be an excellent next stop.

  4. Barb –

    As I told you at a recent WebCT gathering, you and Carol created a working environment that was probably the best I have ever worked in. And as a client of mine from Texas once said, “This is not my first rodeo.”

    WebCT was a place where I knew I had the support of my manager and upper management and where my judgment was respected. Where directness and truth-telling was expected and not punished. Where everyone knew that ultimately we were on the same team and intra-company friction was at a minimum. Where the goal of the team was to provide excellent products and customer service (and it was understood that making money would come from that). Where problems were approached with a can-do attitude and even bad news was handled in a professional and relatively blame-free way. Where the top managers were genuinely interested in their employees as people and where performance from employees at all levels was recognized.

    I know that all of this doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because of good leadership, in word and example. Thank you.


  5. Barb – are you sure we are not twin sisters? I’m pretty sure you are my better half – smarter, funnier, wiser, kinder. I know I am lucky to have worked with you and the remarkable team at WebCT.

    I don’t think daytime TV is next, unless you are writing for it. Hope to read a mystery novel from you soon.


  6. Barb: I hope you and your family are well; and it was a pleasure to work with you at WebCT. I hope someday I will have the same type of work environment.

  7. Pingback: The Kindness of Writers by Barbara Ross | Maine Crime Writers

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