As part of a yearlong celebration of our 40th anniversary, Progress would like to introduce you to some of our fantastic longtime employees who have made us who we are today. In this post, meet Stephan Leferink, senior sales director.
Stephan started working at Progress in 1992 and is based in the Netherlands. Like many longtime Progressers, Stephan has not only grown professionally with the company, but much of his biggest personal milestones have happened during his tenure—sometimes intersecting, like when he and his now wife became engaged during a company trip.
From that engagement within a corporate engagement, to forging friendships for life, to being #ProgressProud for his work and our products, to being in awe of a certain legendary performer (hint: he was a hard-working “godfather” of sorts) … read on for more of Stephan’s story.
We promise, you’ll “feel good!”
There was always change at Progress. It comes with the IT territory. That is also why I like working in IT. When I started at Progress it was a single product company. There was quite some competition with companies like Uniface, PowerBuilder, Ingres, Delphi, Informix, Magic, Unify and many more. Most of that competition is not so present anymore or have dissolved in an acquisition.
Today we have many more product lines and go-to-markets. As my background is sales, I do like all the new opportunities this offers. I am excited also to see new companies and products being added through our mergers and acquisitions strategy.
Most of my professional career has been at Progress. In the beginning, I learned a lot from people like Mario de Jager and Hans van der Meer. They were among the first employees at Progress Netherlands. We are still connected as very close friends.
It is hard to pick out a person from who I learned the most, and I am still learning today 😊.
Achieving Circle of Excellence for sales and specifically going to Puerto Rico, where I asked my wife, Anne-Marie, to marry me.
That was 26 years ago. We are still very happily married. We even had the chance to go back to Puerto Rico a few years ago to the same hotel on another COE trip to relive the memory.
The people make the difference. Off course having great and differentiating products is important, but it is a people’s business. We had great people in the past, but I am very proud being part of a great team today, coping with challenges never seen before.
This still makes me very proud to work for Progress.
The sales kickoffs have always been very inspiring to me and were also great fun. When I talk to former colleagues, most of the time they talk about the great time they had working at Progress and often refer to the kickoffs. In fact, most of them see the time they worked for Progress as the best time they had in their careers.
I remember one kick off in Orlando when we had a party in the House of Blues. We were eating and drinking when suddenly the curtains opened and James Brown appeared on stage. What a surprise and performance. I’ll never forget it.
To the delight of Progress employees, legendary entertainer James Brown performs at the House of Blues in Orlando.
After my previous job I realized how important it is to work for a company building and selling quality products, working together with great colleagues and also to have some fun.
With some hard work, you can be successful as a team, and you stay positive and do great work together every day.
My previous job was at Olivetti, an Italian company. I like Italy and it’s where I spend most of my holidays. At that time, I also liked Italian cars very much. I had my chance to start driving an Alfa Romeo 33. The model, noise of the engine and speed was great fun.
I think it was in the second week I had the car, in the morning I tried to step into my car for a customer visit, but noticed that the car was really close to the ground.
The car was on crates, and my wheels were stolen. I drove another Alfa (model 155) after the first one, but had so many technical issues that since then I only drive German cars.
This question really makes me feel old. It was all of the above. The fax was located at the center of the office. It provided a place to have a coffee and check if orders came through. Our secretary at that time, Mariska, once fooled me on the last day of the fiscal year when I was waiting for an order that could make the difference for the whole year.
She told me the fax was out of paper and paper was out of stock. Today I still remember the way I reacted.
To get to know other Progressers like Stephan, read more of our Progress employee interviews here.
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Dave Pierce strives to be a writer’s writer, an editor’s editor, and a marketer’s marketer. An award-winning journalist formerly of The Boston Globe, Dave combines his love of SEO, content management and social media with his passion for storytelling. At Progress, he manages, writes and optimizes content. Dave lives in New Hampshire with his wife and teenage daughters. You may find him at Northeastern University hockey games on the weekends from October to March. You can find him on LinkedIn every day.
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