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My First Months at Instructure

ToshiroPolak
Instructure
Instructure
11 1 367

When Impact (formerly EesySoft) was welcomed into the Instructure family last July, no one on the team could quite anticipate the amount of change, excitement, and enervation that comes with a marriage between companies. As I look back at Impact’s inaugural months at Instructure, I can’t help but flashback to my first day in High School. I am reminded of those first hesitant steps into the entrance hall with my back slumped over from the weight of my Kipling backpack - filled to the brim with textbooks, dictionaries, and (yes) an atlas - as I take in the social order that was established long before I got here. I try to avoid eye contact as I walk past groups of seniors who from my vantage point might as well be grown adults, cool kids with their pearly white sneakers, and edgy goths who I thought only existed on MTV. This is what it feels like to transition from a scrappy Dutch scale-up to an American EdTech juggernaut. Everything appears bigger, faster, more dynamic, but also more complex.

Our team of fewer than 40 individuals (that I joined as employee #6) was entering a workforce of 1000+ strong. The comfort of knowing all of your coworkers’ names and faces was dissipating. This sense of a changing “vibe” was compounded by the members of a historically very connected squad being absorbed into their respective business units within the broader organization. For all of us, even those who have been in their role for years, it felt like starting a brand new job.

During my first weeks as Product Director, I found myself having to consult the directory on a daily basis to keep track of the ever-growing mental map of new Instructure peers that I would cross paths with. Getting to engage with so many intelligent humans with wide-ranging interests, professional and personal experience in such a concentrated stretch of time has been intense, but incredibly energizing. I got to pick the brains of the product leaders for Canvas, Studio, Portfolium, Catalog, and MasteryConnect to understand how they identify market needs, foster connections across functional areas, and bridge the gap between product and engineering. I also benefited from the perspective of those who ended up at Instructure in a similar fashion as I did. It helped me appreciate that there is no guidebook that ensures a frictionless merger, only a commitment to transparent communication and positive effort by all parties involved. It took some time navigating this initial feeling of discomfort to eventually discover we are all still profoundly together as an Impact family. We are still the same passionate, sometimes unruly, and always kooky bunch that loves engaging with the education community and building beautiful products.

Group photo after the October Impact team retreatGroup photo after the October Impact team retreat

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