Meet Mike Furgal, Director of Database and Pro2 Services at Progress

Meet Mike Furgal, Director of Database and Pro2 Services at Progress

November 23, 2020 0 Comments
Meet Mike Furgal, Director of Database and Pro2 Services at Progress

Progress people bring diverse experiences to the table and make Progress a special place to work. In this post, meet Mike Furgal, director of database and Pro2 Services at Progress.

One of the most amazing opportunities presented by a company that’s prospered for as long as Progress has is hearing from the very people who have made that success possible. Mike joined Progress back when it only had 80 people and has since grown as much as the company has. Find out why in 2020, he’s as energized as ever.

How is it that you came to work at Progress?

Believe it or not, Progress was my first job out of university. Back in 1989, Progress was a small company with 80 employees. It was growing, and I was attracted to the opportunity to grow with it.

Ah, you joined early. So, how did you end up in Professional Services?

I worked in product development for OpenEdge for 24 years. When it came time for a new challenge, I wanted to stay connected to the OpenEdge community and use my knowledge to help customers. After years of interacting with customers at user conferences, helping them with their deployments and working through any problems they were having, Professional Services made perfect sense.

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What about Progress makes you like working here?

I love the technology. I love the people I work with. At Progress, I’m truly working with friends. Most people who work at Progress tend to stay here. Many of my friends in development have been at Progress for 25 or more years; my colleagues in Professional Services have been at Progress for decades. I think that's why Progress has succeed for so long. As we grow, we add the experiences and fresh perspectives of the people joining the company, and blend that with the deep knowledge and experiences of seasoned tech professionals. It makes for a great work environment.

Progress people. We hear that a lot. But what else do you like about your role? What excites you about it?

It’s exciting to be part of a growing business. When I joined OpenEdge services in 2012, we had five people on the team servicing 37 customers. Now, Managed Database Services has 20 people in four countries and seven time zones supporting a growing list of customers. I get excited every time I meet a customer and they put their trust in us to remotely manage their OpenEdge deployment.

Give us a peek behind the curtain. What does a typical day look like for you?

Well, there is a lot of email. In the morning, I check overnight emails and IM’s from the team to make sure things are running well for our customers. I give technical help to team members, if they need it. I also work with the sales team a bunch. I meet with them and also attend meetings they setup with customers. That way, I can hear about any issues firsthand and propose solutions. Overall, my day is a combination of meetings with sales and customers and constantly interacting with the broader team on IM.

You’ve advanced a lot since you first arrived at Progress. How has the company supported your development?

I’ve had mentors and leaders that helped me be successful, and the company is very open to promoting from within. After about five years, I made a decision to transition to a technical management position; Progress gave me that opportunity. Since that time, where I was a team leader for three people, I have led teams of various sizes in various geographies. Progress has supplied tools and training to help me along the way. Most recently I participated in the LEAD program that all managers go through; it reinforces so many of the good management skills and styles that I have learned throughout the years.

Do any development moments stand out?

Absolutely, a big one. Early in in my career, I was getting frustrated. The lead developer on the OpenEdge database sat down and said to me, “There are about 100 people in the world that know what I know about databases. Work with me and I will teach you.” That was a career-changing moment for me. That statement alone converted working on Progress OpenEdge from being a “job” to being a “career.” I don’t know where I would be now if that statement wasn’t made and that opportunity wasn’t given to me.

That’s powerful. Is that the most valuable thing you have learned at Progress, or is there something else?

When I think of my career, the technology skills certainly stand out. However, Joe Alsop, the founder of Progress, told me once, that Progress values things in the following order: 1) The People, 2) The technology Progress creates, 3) everything else. This stuck with me and I believe Progress continues to value items in this order, putting people first. I have taken that philosophy and feel the same about the teams I manage; it has built trust between all of us.

Meet Mike Furgal, Director of Database and Pro2 Services at Progress

Outside of work, what experiences have made you who you are today as a professional?

I am a ski instructor and have been for the past 32 years. Ski instructing has taught me many skills that have become useful in my professional career. To teach someone to ski, I need to build trust and establish a relationship. I need to present highly technical information in ways that people can understand. I need to guide and correct as they learn and progress. Doesn’t that sound like what a good manager would do? The skills I learn teaching people to ski directly apply and help me present technical topics at conferences and to build trust with our customers as well as other employees here at Progress.

Speaking of life lessons, how do you balance your work and personal life?

Work from home is new for many in the age of COVID-19, but I have been working from home full time since 2012. I learned long ago to put up a wall, so when work is done, it is done. The computer is downstairs away from my non-work life. Sometimes it is hard, and emails come in all the time and it is tempting to look. Truthfully, I do look and read, but I will only act on something if it really cannot possibly wait until the next day. It takes discipline, but this approach works for me.

Since WFH wasn’t new for you, what has changed for you during the COVID-19 period?

Travel. I would typically travel once a month for work, but that has gone away. I do miss it. I liked to have a trip to look forward to. I think COVID-19 has taught us as a business that we can be successful without having to travel to meetings.

What activities do you enjoy the most when the working day is over?

Beyond skiing in the winter, I play disc golf every morning in the summer before work starts. I am an early riser, so disc golf starts at 6:30 a.m. I live in the mountains, so there is always hiking and biking and other outdoor activities. I cut and split my own wood, which is rewarding and also time consuming. And I have—together with my wife Patty, who also works for Progress—signed up for a Hello Fresh, which is a meal delivery service. We get the ingredients and a recipe and make the meals ourselves. It has been a fun thing to do during COVID-19.

Is there anything about you that people would be surprised to learn?

I live at the base of a ski area in a town with only 500 full-time residents.

What is the biggest myth that you’d like to debunk about Professional Services?

Too often, consultants are only in it for the money. This is not true here at Progress. I constantly hear from our customers that our consultants are not like any other vendor they work with. We are honest, even when it is tough to be, and we always want to do the right thing for the customer. I can tell you that all the consultants I work with at Progress are working hard to take exceptional care of the customer.

If you had to describe yourself with just three words, which would they be?

Loyal, passionate, fun.

What’s the best part of working at Progress?

Being part of an ecosystem of customers and end users that really appreciate what we have created. It makes me #ProgressProud. And the employees, as I mentioned, are amazing people. They’re the best part of starting work in the morning.

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

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Paulette Stout Progress

Paulette Stout

An all-around fabulous marketing veteran of both corporate and nonprofit sectors, and principal at Media Goddess Inc., Paulette is an enthusiastic champion of the written word. She has a strong background in content marketing, writing and strategy, and was also an award-winning media buyer-planner for top brands.

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