We’d like to introduce you to some of the people from around the world who make us who we are at Progress. In this post, meet Antonio Brignoli, Strategic Partner Alliances at Progress.
A father of three daughters, аn owner of award-winning Dalmatians and a passionate photographer, Antonio Brignoli describes himself as an action-oriented extrovert, who is always on the lookout for exciting adventures, preferably in various places around the world. He joined Progress as a part of the sales organization after spending 25 years at a different company.
Antonio started his career in an engineering position, but eventually found his way to a role that incorporates his technical knowledge, people skills, love for travelling and desire to change people’s lives for the better. Find out more about Antonio in the following interview.
I have always been selective about the type of jobs I do, as I’ve always wanted them to include work trips and to be able to work with people from different countries. Back in the mid-1980s I started out as an electronic engineer, but I quickly realized working with Italians only was not for me. Shortly after I started my first international job with a U.S. company, which is in the business of electronic payment transactions. Seven years later the company got acquired by HP and there I had the chance to try myself out in various roles.
Over my almost 37-year career I’ve worked as an engineer (I have a technical academic background), I’ve led developer teams, done business development, marketing and eventually I got into sales, which is what I’m doing now. In the ’90s I was one of the most respected experts on e-payments in Europe and I pioneered smart cards in the payment industry in Italy.
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I came across Progress during my time at HP. I was part of the European Cloud Team, which had created a new operating system for the cloud. HP is an infrastructure vendor, so we needed an application partner to help us create a complete offering for our clients. I found Progress and got them on board. The very first person I met from the company was Phil Dunlop, with whom I work closely right now as well. The partnership was a success and went on for several years until HP decided to move into a different direction. I enjoyed working with Phil, so we kept in touch. One year later, he invited me to join the Progress team and here I am now.
It took me about two months to make the decision. It is tough to move away from a comfort zone you’ve been in this long. But at the end of the day, I knew I wanted to stay in the solutions business and HP was going into a direction which I did not agree with, so the decision for me was easy.
To me it is the different company culture. How do people communicate with each other? How do they work together—are they cooperative or are they competitive? What is the management involvement? What are the internal processes like? All these things are essential to do a good switch and typically, people underestimate those aspects. I consider myself lucky, because I had been working with Progress for four years prior, so when I came on board, I already knew part of the culture. Nevertheless, it took me a full year to get comfortable with where I am now.
Find a mentor, who can support you on this process. Before switching to a new role, one should do extensive research on what skills and knowledge the new field requires. They should be ready to learn and put in a lot of energy to make it happen, as it is not easy, especially in the beginning. I was lucky to have had someone who had helped me 25 years ago, so I’m paying it forward now by mentoring colleagues on their own career journey.
Three such projects come to mind right away. The first one happened 25 years ago at the start of my career. Back then I was working in the е-payments industry and I designed a new debit card system at a time when the smart technology was a total failure in the industry. It was a great success, which led to the Bank of Italy inviting me to consult them on how they can improve their own processes.
The second one I did in 2000. My team and I were responsible for creating the first integration in Italy between the banking and the telco systems for the top-up reload cards. We created all the standards, protocols and the technology that would allow a user to reload their prepaid SIM card at an ATM. Now this is something very common, but back then it was something completely new for Italy and maybe in Europe as a whole. The third one is a project I’ve been working on for the past year or so. It spans almost all countries in the world and the business outcome so far has been amazing.
The quality of the products and the team collaboration to help our clients be successful.
I had two dream jobs and I eventually got to do them both. One was a boat pilot and the other was an engineer. When I was 19, I went to the Navy Academy. It was a very selective process, but I managed to get in and I was even the best student in my year. But after I spent a summer sailing as part of my education, I realized that this is not the type of lifestyle I wanted to have. Then I enrolled in engineering school and you already know what happened next.
Everything started 15 years ago. I have always loved Dalmatians, so I got in touch with a breeder to get one. She had a little female puppy, but she refused to sell it to me. After some more talking, she agreed to give her to me, but under one condition—that I take Marghe (that’s her name) to dog shows. I didn’t even know what that was, but she assured me that my dog would be a champion.
So, when Marghe became 6 months old I started taking her to competitions. Eventually she became Italian and then international champion and afterwards won all other possible titles there are. We even went to Crufts, which is the most important European dog show. The competition is so tough that it’s hard as a non-English dog to get qualified, but she did, and she ended up pretty well, winning more titles that I thought possible for a non-dog breeder like me.
Later in the years my dog mated with the world champion at the time, a Dalmatian from Croatia, and gave birth to a puppy, Five. He is even more beautiful than his mother, so I started taking him to shows as well. In six months, he became the Italian champion, but then I decided to stop. It didn’t make sense to keep doing it, if I wasn’t planning on selling my puppies, which is not what I wanted to do. So, now I have two wonderful dogs, which keep me active and accompany me on my mountain hikes.
To get to know other Progressers like Antonio, read more of our Progress employee interviews here.
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Tsvetiana Zaharieva is part of the Global Communications team at Progress. Inspired by technology and its impact on society, she is passionate about sharing good stories and know-how in the most efficient way. She is interested in the influence of psychology on communication and the role of the entrepreneurial mindset in a corporate setting. In her spare time she enjoys singing in choir as well as going to cultural and business events.
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