Something new for 2022

  Filed in: life

Leaving Heidelberg on moving onto Bonn, and so much more. Own photo.

This month, I’m saying goodbye to my projects at EMBL but my career in web work continues.

Of all the projects I’ve led at EMBL, I’ll be saddest to say goodbye to the Visual Framework.

During my time, I managed to get a lot of organisation support for the Visual Framework, but I never managed to get the organisation really excited for it nor did I get it cemented as one of EMBL’s permanent and public-facing services (or "tools" depending on your EMBL world view). I’m still hopeful that whoever steps into my shoes as the project owner will be able to achieve those things and carry the vision forward, but it’s a tall order; that person needs to:

  • carry forward the project,
  • fully grasp the problem space,
  • share a similar vision of the solution as mine, and
  • be willing to continue organisational culture change

It’s far from impossible, but I suspect the most likely outcome is that the next person will view the Visual Framework in a more limited role that supports only EMBL’s needs and not be flexible enough to empower virtually any life science project.

A simpler view of the Visual Framework creates a much simpler problem space and accordingly requires fewer resources to implement — but it also greatly limits potential, muting its ability to be flexible enough to be used by all of EMBL’s many online collaborations.

Time will tell.

(If you're looking for a interesting design systems project, watch their openings.)

I’ve already written plenty on why the Visual Framework’s open approach is important, so I won’t digress again. Instead, I want to think a bit more broadly reflect a little on closing a 6.5-year chapter in my career.

During my time at EMBL I’ve worked with some truly great colleagues who were not only smart and supportive, but they gave me a wide amount of trust to help deliver my ideas. I'll miss that most.

In January, I’ll start my new position and can only hope that my new colleagues will be as tremendous as those EMBL colleagues were.

While the exact aspects of my work will change, I expect it to still be broadly the same: helping ensure web sites deliver value.

It's been pointed out to me a few times that I should spend less time going hands on and more time leading — I'm really going to try to set out by not just doing and ensuring I'm demonstrating.

But a lot will depend on what needs I actually encounter when I start.

I’m excited about the new opportunity and also anxious. We’ll be relocating as a family, and that means lots of uncertainties … what will the work be like? How will my colleagues be? How are the playgrounds? The apartment? Kindergarten? What exactly are the needs I'll be addressing for work?

Change is stressful.

All told, I’d have happily stayed at EMBL for many more years, but there’s a 9-year cap to the vast majority of EMBL staff. So at some point, my current opportunity would end, and I’d have to find something that would sponsor me to stay in Germany.

I don't think I could have found a better future position that matches my career interests, is supportive of family life and works for a common good.

Between being a parent of a now 4-year-old and providing leadership for a number of projects, I'm also hopeful that a new role will give me a bit of time to focus on side projects a bit more. Writing this I'm noticing it's been just over 1 year since my last blog entry.

It’s probably a good time for a change.

After several years of applying myself to a problem, the Visual Framework solves the majority of problems it aims to address. It’s a mature system that needs someone to maintain the status quo, and I think I’m ready to solve some new challenges.

Let's hope 2022 will be a bright year in all the right ways.