A wise older friend, now something terribly important in the EU, once observed to me: "All of us had at some point to give up the job we loved to move on." True, I suppose, you have to move on, don't you? But it doesn't make it much easier for me to leave WebCom.
WebCom has been special; there's no doubt about it. Perhaps, for me like for all those others who "moved on", it has something to do with it being that first real management job, mid-career, with the freedom and opportunity actually to influence things, but still protected to a degree from the low politics of higher spheres. But no, it wouldn't have been the same anywhere else. Freedom and opportunity cannot be taken for granted. In part they come from the very subject matter, the unpredictable, wonderful, anarchic, fast moving internet, and from enlightened bosses (one in particular) who know something good when they see it, when to cut some slack and when take a risk. But mainly they come from the vitality and creativity of the people working there. Being the head of a team like WebCom is easy: just find a way of letting them do what they want to do.
But are professional freedom and opportunity the whole story? No. It's more personal than that.
WebCom has also been about friendship: genuine new friendships with some fantastic individuals (you know who you are…) and more widely about sharing a space with great people, people who are loyal to each other, people who enjoy what they do, people who put their hearts into it, people who see themselves first and foremost as a team. We call it the "WebCom spirit". Sure, it could wax and wane a little, especially when long-standing colleagues had to leave, hit by contractual deadlines or by compulsory mobility, but it always came back, as strong as ever.
I hope I will find such a spirit again. But I sincerely doubt I ever will.
From Monday 3 September, I have been asked to head up the Directorate for Relations with Citizens in DG Comm. It may be transitional, it may be transitory, but I know my mind has now to be elsewhere than WebCom. Meanwhile, I leave the unit in the safest possible of hands.
I had intended to write a long post, a retrospective on all the great things the last five years have brought. And, even if many people inside the organisation do not know it, WebCom has probably done more good for the Parliament than any other unit over that period. But then I re-read the intro and realised I had said what I wanted to say. This was the job I loved, these are people I will very much miss. Perhaps some-one else will do the retrospective. If not, revisit old posts on this blog, and watch again the two videos below, one from the beginning, one from the end of these golden years, and be reminded of the spirit.
The first Christmas video, "Friday I'm in Love", 2007
Our latest "Natural Born Pop Culture", Christmas 2011