Meet Brody Messmer, Director of Software Engineering at Progress

Meet Brody Messmer, Director of Software Engineering at Progress

Posted on January 31, 2022
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Today, we shine a spotlight on Brody Messmer, who has been recognized for upholding trust, one of the ProgressPROUD core values we strive to embody every day.

Trust is an essential part of any good relationship. Whether between friends, partners, or family members, trust has to be at the foundation.

In business, this is especially true. Coworkers have to trust each other, managers have to trust their teams (and vice versa), and customers have to trust the products and service of companies.

However, this trust goes beyond meeting deadlines and following through on contracts. Trust in the workplace means knowing that your team members will hold you and themselves accountable, that they will support you when needed, and that they will do their best to help you grow.

For Brody Messmer, trust is a major part of his role at Progress. As a director of software engineering, Brody leads his team in developing the DataDirect product. Throughout his 20-year career with DataDirect and Progress, Brody has learned that it’s key to believe in others—and just as important to believe in yourself.

Read on to learn more about Brody’s experience at Progress.

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As a director, it’s imperative to inspire confidence among the members of your team. How do you inspire confidence in the people you manage?

I value honesty and transparency and provide the same to my team. This builds a virtuous cycle of confidence. Of course, there are times where the honest and transparent message may not invoke confidence on its own. In that case, I employ two techniques. First, I talk to my team members about the measurable milestones we need to hit to get to a point where we will regain confidence. Second, I turn attention even more toward each team member’s career. 

While some projects and products fail, there is always an opportunity to learn and grow as an individual. A career is tied to the acquisition of knowledge, not a given project or product.

Do you remember what made you choose to work at Progress, or what drew you to your current job?

I first landed a contract job with DataDirect nearly 20 years ago. At the time, I was just looking for any work in the field, but I was doing low level development on the Mac, which hit a lot of my interests. After completing the project, I accepted a full time offer with another company doing web development, which I wasn’t thrilled about. DataDirect reached out to me a few months later and I was quick to jump at the opportunity to again work for them doing lower-level development. Within a week or two of joining DataDirect as a full-time employee, the acquisition by Progress was announced.

While the acquisition was a bit shocking and surprising, it didn’t change the attributes that attracted me to the position. Over all these years, I’ve continued to enjoy the technical challenges, opportunities for growth, and the great set of team members!

How does trust factor into your day-to-day work?

Wow, trust plays a role in practically every interaction and decision. Without trust, you lose efficiency, effectiveness, and morale. This is a topic where I usually draw a comparison to team sports. I used to play a lot of volleyball, and trust, or the lack thereof, is easy to spot in volleyball. If a team member is not trusted, another team member is regularly playing out of position. Rather than having one weak spot, the team now has two, decreasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the team. The lack of trust is felt throughout the team, dipping the morale of the entire team (oftentimes severely for the untrusted individual). The same behaviors and impacts take place with teams in the workplace.

What do you think makes Progress a great company, and why do customers continue to believe in us and our products?

The people and our culture are fantastic. I’m also very happy with (CEO Yogesh Gupta) and his team. I’ve seen a good number of CEOs at Progress, and my confidence level today is at a high that only compares to that of (former CEO and founder) Joe Alsop’s time at Progress. As for how Progress has stood the test of time—in my mind, it’s sticky products that continue to evolve to meet today’s demands.

Throughout your career at Progress, has there been a certain coworker who has helped you, or who has taught you some important lessons about trust and managing people?

Wow, pick one?!? Everyone I work with has helped me learn, grow, succeed, and have fun over the years. I suppose this whole journey started with Sue Purkis, who hired me as a contractor and pushed to have me hired full time after the contract ended. She was my manager for some time, was a great resource for me for our shared years at Progress, and a friend.

Sue led by example. She knew her strengths, and when to lean on the strengths of her team or coworkers. She was open, honest, and took ownership of problems. She made it easy to be open and honest in return, no matter what the news. She also built personal connections with seemingly everyone she interacted with. All these things allowed Sue to build trust both with me, and throughout Progress.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start a career in technology or engineering?

My advice transcends beyond the tech and engineering field:

  1. Work on or in something that you love.
  2. Believe in yourself. You really can do anything if you work hard enough.
  3. Tell others what you want. They’ll help hold you accountable and will help grease the wheels to get there.
  4. Never stop learning.

What is your favorite part of your job right now?

There’s a new challenge every day!

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

As a father of three young daughters, I’m quick to spend my non-working time with the family. I love to be active, and it’s awesome to introduce my older daughters to some of my favorite active hobbies as well. We recently enjoyed a long weekend snow skiing/snowboarding, and in the summer months you’ll find us at Lake Gaston on the North Carolina/Virginia border, or some other body of water.

What are you most excited about for the future of Progress?

Two things come to mind. First, since I’ve been tied to the DataDirect business for nearly 20 years, I’m excited to see how DataDirect continues to identify and solve data challenges in the future. Second, I’m excited to see how Progress continues to execute on the acquisition and growth strategy. More specifically, what cool pieces of technology will join the Progress family next?!?

To get to know other Progressers like Brody, read more of our employee interviews here.

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Jessica Kent of Progress

Jessica Kent

Jessica Kent is a writer and editor based in Boston. As a content specialist, she has the opportunity to write about the exciting things happening at Progress, as well as the amazing people behind it all. When she’s not working, you can find her reading, going for a run or attempting to learn the guitar.

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