WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

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WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby sarahdelilah on Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:19 pm

I just got off the phone with Michelle Campbell, who as you know organizes, runs, produces, troubleshoots, and pulls off up to 10 U.S. regional barista competitions per year, and the annual USBC and WBC events.

Today Michelle was informed that she is fired from the WBC. She is still employed by the SCAA and will continue her work with the USBC and the regionals. But for the WBC event and participants to lose someone as organized, capable, considerate, intelligent, and deeply, deeply committed not only to the success of the overall event, but to the individual baristas themselves, is a tragedy. Yes, tragedy. Who of you remember what the WBC and USBC events used to be like before Michelle was put in charge? I remember they were constantly running hours and hours overtime. There were countless concerns and questions from the competitors that went unanswered. I recall two competitions where the wrong people were announced as the finalists! Basically, the WBC had neither the clout nor the respect it has now. Of course, there are other factors that have contributed to the growing success of the WBC besides Michelle's direction, but I'd venture to say that many of them are in some way linked to Michelle's presence and commitment.

The production of the WBC is the most challenging of any barista event in the world, bringing together more than 50 baristas who speak different languages, exercise different customs, have varying concerns, and have the most at stake. I invite anyone who has ever worked with Michelle as a competitor, judge, volunteer, and/or observer to join me in protesting her termination from the WBC event. I fear for the sake of every WBC competitor in Atlanta -- I fear for the development and success of the WBC itself.

I urge you to write a letter to the WBC Board who made the decision to fire Michelle Campbell. They are:

Cindy Chang: cindy@couterculturecoffee.com
Nick Cho: nick@murkycoffee.com
Andrew Hetzel: ahetzel@cafemakers.com
Emily Oak: emily@freshground.com.au
Mick Wheeler: michael.wheele@btconnect.com
Steve Penk: sgp@laspaziale.co.uk
Drewry Pearson: drewry@marco.ie
Max Fabian: mfabian@demus.it


Thank you.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Shane on Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:35 pm

Whoa... I dont really know Michelle that well but I was in Minny and Copenhagen and she was the hardest working person around. Kept things goin really smooth... ahead of schedule in Denmark if I remember right.

crazy, whats up with that!!
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Jason Haeger on Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:14 pm

What are the grounds? What are the stated reasons for such a drastic potential shift in direction?

In order to contest something, I think it wise to know what exactly one is contesting in addition to the obvious.

I'd say this is terrible news... and I may be right. But I can't say that without understanding the intentions or motives behind the action.

Can anyone here maybe fill us in a bit?

I thought she did a fantastic job with our first regional, and from what I have heard from others, the same is echoed for every other competition she has ever organized. However, things like this tend not to be arbitrary, and I wish we (as competitors, and the like) would be given a bit more information on the matter.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Mark Prince on Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:07 am

This is very bad juju. I cannot think of any sane reason to fire Michelle Campbell. The WBC board has some serious explaining to do.

Email sent to the board and chair. Let's see what kind of response, if any, it garners.

Mark
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Kyle Larson on Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:36 am

Pretty astonishing.

After the departure of all the Europeans(most of whom founded the organization) and now Michelle it makes someone wonder what the hell is going on with the WBC.

Sounds like the new board is a real class act.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Lorrie McCullaugh on Thu Sep 11, 2008 12:29 pm

I can not think of anyone in the entire industry that works as hard as Michelle. What is the board thinking?!?
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Jason Haeger on Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:08 pm

Lorrie McCullaugh wrote:I can not think of anyone in the entire industry that works as hard as Michelle. What is the board thinking?!?

See, this suggestion presupposes that the board was, in fact, "thinking".

I'm leaning more towards the side of "reacting" to something or other rather than "thinking". If any rational thought were involved, I'm inclined to believe that this would not have been the outcome.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Robert Goble on Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:47 pm

Without any specific information, speculation will only have us chasing our collective tails. I do know that it was at one point proposed that for the WBC to survive and grow as a distinct organization, that it would need to create full time staff positions and infrastructure within itself, distinct from whatever bodies own it. Perhaps this move is a reflection of that? If I remember correctly the WBC is or was jointly owned by the SCAE and the SCAA (please correct me if I'm wrong). Perhaps the WBC is getting ready to lay some roots of its own? Anyone?
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby andynewbom on Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:52 pm

whatever comes of this all i know is that
:D :D MICHELLE CAMPBELL ROCKS!!!!! :D :D
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby John P on Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:22 pm

I posted a query on the BGA forum, which I am surprised that this has not been mentioned there.

Transparency?

In addition there was at least one board member I saw reading this post last night and they chose not to respond. Remember the "Nick Cho" fiasco? Please, don't handle this one so poorly.

If it is a simple answer, let us all know. Then we can move on.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Rich Westerfield on Thu Sep 11, 2008 6:34 pm

If I was back in the show & conference biz, Michelle would be one of my first calls. The woman is aces.

That said, assuming she stays on, there would seem to be' a lot more event work next year when the SCAA takes over management and marketing of all the regionals as has been stated.

But yeah, once again the SCAA isn't out in front of the issue. Transparency =/= invisible.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Mark Prince on Fri Sep 12, 2008 1:33 am

From what I can tell, this isn't so much an SCAA issue as it is a WBC / SCAE issue. Of course it's all speculation because the WBC is mum on this currently.

The WBC is currently flush with money. Supposedly, they're hiring / putting out notice they're hiring a full time staffer, who will apparently be doing Michelle's previous job with them.

Bottom line is, there' appears to be a set of

a) bad communication (again)
b) bad considerations (at the very least, this issue should have been communicated to Michelle directly, instead of through a second party)
c) lack of transparency on what's going on.

Michelle can be fairly forceful and direct in her dealings when things need to get done. That may rub some the wrong way, but at the end of the day, she got things done. This is total speculation, but sometimes, egos need to be checked at the door. I'm still waiting for a proper response from the WBC on this issue. I've spoken to several current-judges and other people involved yesterday, and I encouraged all to write the board and seek answers.

Mark
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby James Hoffmann on Fri Sep 12, 2008 5:15 am

I've attended 4 WBCs now, 2 as competitor and 2 as coach and Michelle has always done a great job of making sure that everything runs smoothly and that nothing backstage hinders you onstage. I think everyone who has competed at a WBC feels the same.

As I understood it Michelle has not been "fired", but instead the WBC have not renewed that part time position with the SCAA as they are looking to appoint someone full time for that role, as part of a process of change that is very much necessary if the WBC is going to thrive and evolve. If, hypothetically, she had done something to merit being fired I am not sure announcing it publicly on a forum like this would have done anyone any favours.

I am not speaking on behalf of the board, I am not connected to the WBC in any other way than that of a past competitor but I'd rather turn this thread into a public vote of thanks to Michelle for everything she has done for the WBC than into speculation that does no one any good. The USBC is lucky to have Michelle's continued work and I am sure will remain one of the great national barista competitions.

So once again - thank you Michelle, you are awesome.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby sarahdelilah on Fri Sep 12, 2008 7:13 am

I think there is some confusion about why this happened, and there are a lot of reasons for it. Yes, the WBC is flush with money and wants to establish some permanent positions. That makes sense. But Michelle was "cut loose" without so much as a thank you, as if she had been disposable all these years. That hurt her deeply.

There is also the issue that Rich brings up, that in protecting the integrity of both the WBC and the competitors, Michelle has often come across as abrasive -- for example, when she had to physically escort an aggressive photographer (he had put his camera equipment on the barista's prep table and refused to move it -- during performance!!) from the event space. And when Michelle complained to the AV guys in CPH that the headsets were faulty (poor sound and improperly connected headsets had already thrown off the concentration of several competitors) she was labeled a "bitch" and complaints were filed against her.

So there is a lot going on, but no one seems to be talking. But the Board would do well to address this immediately. There are few as well loved as Michelle Campbell in this industry, and I know I'm not the only one ready to fight for her. Whether we're able to fight for the job she loves and does so well is to be determined. But at the very least, let's fight for her respect -- she is owed an explanation and appreciation for years of good hard work. Lastly, she is owed recognition for being one of the primary forces behind the success and development of the WBC.
Last edited by sarahdelilah on Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Ryan Willbur on Fri Sep 12, 2008 7:22 am

Well stated James. There really doesn't seem to be enough information to run around shouting and screaming. However, I must second everyone is commending Michelle for all the hard and amazing work she has done. She is a pro and would be hard to replace... And that's just it. I can think of maybe 2 individuals who might be able to step up to the task and deliver what she has year after year... and maybe if there is a year to make such a transition, this is it... When the WBC is coming to Atlanta, where (if this is coordinated well) the 'baton' can be passed off smoothly.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby trish on Fri Sep 12, 2008 8:19 am

I care deeply for Michelle and hope to see her for many years to come.
Everyone wants to find a way to be supportive, but I think it's not a good idea to air her personal stuff out here on public forum, (ie phone conversations, rumors, complaints about her heard second-hand).
I understand the need to discuss this, but please do so with caution...for Michelle's sake!
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby JavaJ on Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:01 am

Posted on BX by Marty Curtis:

This is going to be taught to get any real concert answer. Here is what they may said. We can not talk about why we let go of a employee because of privacy. But they will need answer the question of what is their goals for this move. So what we need to do is ask for the minutes of the meeting for the last three or four meetings. This will give us an ideal of what they are up to. Than we can ask for the minutes from SCAA BoD. The SCAA board member Nick Cho gives a brief up date of the meetings. Also we can as a group if want to get anything done start a petition/protest and get as many signature as possible. Than as a collective group we sent this to ED, President, and SCAA BoD. If we do this a group and I mean a large group 500-1000 members we will get the results. We as SCAA members own 50% of the WBC so our ED, President and BoD will get involved if they are not all ready.

Also I have already started the ball to see how we can get the minutes. But this org. (WBC) is registered in a foreign country so we have to wait for answers.

So if you don’t want this to go away without a good answer than start getting the petition/protest going. We need to demand the transparency we all want. We can do this without the minute’s maybe we can get some one at the Coffee Fest to walk around with the petition get signatures.

Also this what Marty Curtis is saying as a member of the SCAA and I do not represent the BoD on this response it is only my opinion.
Also my password is giving problems on COFFEED.COM so I posted here any one can move to Coffeed.com Thank you.

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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby JavaJ on Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:12 am

While I generally agree with those calling for level heads and refraining from jumping to conclusions, I have to say that in this matter I respectfully disagree. In past episodes of the SCAA spin-off drama "WBC" I have patiently waited for the news to filter in and the gossip to dissipate. However, it strikes me that there is something peculiar to this particular episode. Perhaps there will be a surprise ending? No, I would say in this instance that the burden of proof is on the WBC and not Michelle. Given the amount of drama and lack of transparency this season, I do not think we are out of place demanding answers. That doesn't mean we need to know everything, but a plausible and rational explanation is well in order. If I read between the lines of Mark and Sarah's post, Michelle welcomes our advocacy.

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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Mark Prince on Fri Sep 12, 2008 1:13 pm

- deleted -
Last edited by Mark Prince on Fri Sep 12, 2008 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Mark Prince on Fri Sep 12, 2008 2:49 pm

Today I found out more details about this situation, and at least from my standpoint, I want to clarify some things and share information on this issue. It's a lot more complicated than I was first led to believe.

Michelle was apparently not "fired", which, especially in legal circles is a particularly harsh word. I apologise for helping propagate that thought.

The SCAA's contract with the WBC to manage the WBC event was not renewed at a board meeting earlier this week. This decision was made because it seems the WBC will be going forward that many critics have been clamouring for for years now - full time staffer(s) to handle things like planning, logistics, marketing, publicity and more.

Because the WBC didn't renew the work contract with the WBC, that meant that Michelle Campbell would not be the chief organizer / administrator for the next events, since she is the SCAA's chosen representative to fill the role.

The WBC (this is purely assumption on my part) probably felt that with Michelle's continued (and increased) involvement in the coordination of the USBC and the Regionals (the SCAA is taking over management of all the regionals this year, IIRC), she would not be able to take on the new full time staffing position with the WBC... and I don't want to speculate beyond that.

Though I also assume that, once the door is opened to job application acceptance for these new staff position(s) with the WBC, Michelle would be invited to submit her resume.

So I do want to apologise for a couple of things. I want to apologise for posting about this before hearing both sides of the issue. It was unprofessional of me and I fear it may have hurt Michelle's standing within the SCAA and her relations with the WBC; I say this even though Michelle communicated directly with me about her frustrations, and asked for my support. While I've kept my words civil and basic here on Coffeed, I did use more sensationalistic tones on BX, and I regret that and I've now edited my post over there.

But I do want to state something I did state to two SCAA board members today and yesterday. This again shows a communication problem with an organization that represents a lot of barista professionals and others who have come to know and love Michelle and appreciate the work they did. It still isn't clear to me if Michelle was approached informally about this decision, and that should have been done if it wasn't.

(edit: nb - I demonstrated my own communication problems this week too, hence the apologies above).

IF the WBC plans on moving forward and hiring full time staffer(s), that's phenomenal news, in my opinion. But I only found out about this because of the Michelle situation, which makes it sour, because of the way it came out.

IF, after the board meeting and such an important decision was made, the WBC had up on their front page, hey, we love Michelle, we recognize the works she's done, but we're moving forward now with full time staffers under WBC employ and this conflicts with Michelle's SCAA employment, and yada yada yada, this would have been a great week for those who follow and have so much invested in barista competitions. Platitudes and sadness over Michelle no longer being involved would have been shared, and people like me would have been focused on positive things happening in the WBC.

When the WBC board (or the SCAA board for that matter) makes small decisions, incidental decisions, I certainly wouldn't expect blast emails about the news to go out minutes after a board meeting. But for a lot of people in the world barista competitions, this news is huge - Michelle Campbell no longer being involved in the organization of the WBC is huge - and one would hope it would be communicated officially, properly, and as early as possible, with all parties involved.

Mark
PS... now it's time to set up the Michelle Campbell Appreciation week, while still celebrating the fact that she's going to be organizing the USBC and regionals with gusto!
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Mark Prince on Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:28 pm

Posted, with permission from the WBC Board:

Dear Mark,

For reasons that we hope that you can understand, we did not feel that it was appropriate or necessary to issue a press release announcing the expiration (not termination) of the WBC's independent contractor agreement with the SCAA for a part-time administrator. Our agreement with the SCAA to contract the service of their staff member, Michelle Campbell was on an annual billing cycle ending this summer. The WBC board's decision to not renew the agreement for this year was in no way influenced by our opinion of Michelle's abilities or dedication to the organization. Furthermore, it is our understanding that she remains to serve as a full-time employee of the SCAA; to our knowledge, no one has been "fired" as rumors suggest.

The position of part-time administrator for the WBC was designed to be a temporary one, until such time that the organization was capable of hiring supporting full-time staff. We will soon be announcing the details of a new full-time Executive Director position to manage and administrate the WBC. As The World Barista Championship continues to grow and improve, you will surely be seeing more changes and developments that are designed to help improve the experience for competitors, audience and volunteers alike.

Michelle Campbell has undoubtedly contributed immensely to the success of the WBC over the past six years. Her innumerable contributions have helped the WBC develop into the world-class event that it is today. Her work for the WBC and the baristas cannot be overstated, and for that, we are truly thankful to her.

Thank you for your longtime support of the World Barista Championship. The organization cannot succeed without the efforts of volunteers like you to help advance the barista profession through competitive events.

Sincerely,

WBC Board of Directors

Cynthia Chang
Director, Chair
World Barista Championship, Ltd.
http://www.worldbaristachampionship.com
Mark Prince
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Jason Haeger on Fri Sep 12, 2008 10:05 pm

This would have been easier if someone had mentioned that in simple terms right off the bat.

Thanks, Mark.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby Aldo1 on Sat Sep 13, 2008 8:20 am

Michelle is one of, if not the best, SCAA professionals I have yet to encounter. Even with our occasional disagreements, she has NEVER been abrasive and has ALWAYS been very service oriented: A bright and shining star of the SCAA, imo.

So, if she has been hurt by the process of this decision, that is just a shame and I am also offended: our association has representation on the WBC board. I hope the SCAA is protecting this fine person and asset.
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Re: WBC fires Michelle Campbell--WTF???

Postby ryan brown on Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:34 pm

nice work, team. :D
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