[Progress News] [Progress OpenEdge ABL] Meet Danielle Sutherby, Senior Marketing Communications Specialist at Progress

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Jessica Kent

Today, we shine a spotlight on Danielle Sutherby, who has been recognized for “Own Our Tomorrow, Today,” one of the ProgressPROUD core values we strive to embody every day.

It’s not always easy to plan for the future. It takes a lot of thought, skill and organization to prepare for potential challenges—and to adapt when things aren’t going as smoothly as you may have hoped.

As a senior marketing communications specialist, Danielle Sutherby is very familiar with planning ahead. There are always several moving parts involved when telling a brand’s story, and that’s especially true for a global company like Progress. Danielle is able to put those moving parts together to create a comprehensive corporate narrative.

In addition to telling Progress’ story, Danielle is one of the founders of our first employee resource group (ERG), Progress for Her. With a mission to empower women by providing leadership and networking opportunities, Progress for Her is dedicated to elevating and supporting women within Progress and beyond—now that’s planning for the future.

“One of my favorite stories to tell is how Progress for Her came to be,” said Courtney Gagne, who co-founded Progress for Her with Danielle. “Danielle and I were looking at statistics of women in management, discussing women’s issues, and generally getting fired up—she marched around over to my desk and said, ‘That’s it, we need to start an organized women’s group.’ I nodded, and from there we went to work.

“Her drive and passion for this work has continued to move Progress forward in every way, and I am honored to be able to work with someone always willing to raise their hand and step up to get it done,” she added.

Read more about Danielle’s career and her experience at Progress below:

What drew you to your current job, or what inspired you to choose the field that you did?​

I was excited about the role; it entailed everything I enjoy doing. Public relations, employee engagement, corporate branding, and the constant opportunity to write and be creative; then to top it off with the fact that Progress is a global, stable company…how could I say no?

In corporate communications, no day is the same. The field empowers you to ask, “What if?” and to connect the dots to tell bigger stories than what was previously planned. To think of unique, creative ways to tell the corporate story and to introduce the world to your employees—not just as experts in their fields, but as cool people everyone should know about. And it’s more than telling the public about what we’re doing and who makes up Progress, it’s about employee engagement as well: Keeping all Progressers connected no matter their location.

During your time at Progress, has there been a particular coworker who has helped you or inspired you to lead the way you have (i.e., starting Progress for Her)?​

It’s hard to single out a specific colleague; I’m lucky to work with a lot of talented people who care about producing great work to support the team.

My mind goes to Aneliya Stoyanova, our International PR Manager. She is a powerhouse: Always motivated, extremely knowledgeable about PR and employer branding, leads all our global PR efforts, never stops learning, and shares her knowledge with others. She’s very humble (I hope I’m not embarrassing her right now), but I’ve always admired her drive and her willingness to help others even when she has a pile of her own work to get done. She showed me the power a humble introvert can have.

And I have to give a shout-out to Erica McShane, Senior Director of Corporate Communications. She was my first boss at Progress and always found ways to push me out of my comfort zone. I think it’s safe to say I’ve grown a lot professionally because of her; the person I was before Progress would never have even attempted to plan a series of events involving the Board of Directors. She taught me to ignore that voice of self-doubt and to have confidence in my skills.

Why did you decide to start Progress for Her? What were your main goals, and why is it important for companies to have groups like this?​

I was still pretty new to Progress and learning about the company and its culture. When I heard a women’s group used to exist but then ended when its founder left the company, I saw an opportunity to build something that could support and elevate women. When I asked my colleague, Courtney Gagne, if she’d want to team up and start the group, she said “yes” with no hesitation. We had never formed an employee resource group before and were very much unaware of the process involved in starting one, but we got a lot of support from the People Team and our executive sponsors, Loren Jarrett and Steve Faberman, to get the group off the ground.

Our main goals were to form a community (of women and allies) that focused on the professional development of women; a group where members could network and speak about their unique experiences of being women in tech.

ERGs are crucial for a company’s success as they help build an inclusive corporate culture where all employees have a sense of belonging. They coordinate essential programming that addresses topics like allyship, unconscious bias and overcoming imposter syndrome. Because of these groups, necessary conversations are happening in the workplace. For example, last June, Progress’ LGBTQ+ ERG Plus launched a pronoun campaign where they explained why sharing pronouns is so important, and then invited all Progress employees to update their email signatures with their pronouns.

What do you think makes Progress a great company, and why have people around the world chosen to stay with Progress for most of their careers?​

I can list a handful of reasons, but I’ll focus on three:

  1. Progress is a stable company that keeps evolving, and because of that, there’s a lot of opportunity. If you keep your head up and look out for new opportunities, you’ll certainly find a great career path; whether you’re following an existing path or creating a new one.
  2. The ProgressPROUD culture is something else. Progress has roughly 2,100 employees at the moment, and although we’re based around the world and have been remote for a couple of years now, Progressers manage to stay connected and engaged. From virtual talent shows to trivia nights and global scavenger hunts, to meeting up for park cleanups and marathons or fundraisers, Progressers show up for each other.
  3. The leadership team actually cares about its people. When there are major world events occurring that impact employees, like the pandemic, the continuing fight for social justice and just recently, the invasion of Ukraine, leadership checks in on its people. They communicate transparently, survey employees to learn about their needs, act based on employee feedback, and donate to deserving causes employees want to support. To say it simply, they lead with empathy. And now, more than ever, we need empathetic leadership.

How does diversity play into the success of communications at Progress?​

Diversity plays a huge role in communications. Progress is a global, multicultural company, made up of people with various backgrounds, unique experiences, and different perspectives. Because of this, we can tap into an immense amount of insight.

When we’re working on a communications piece, either internally or externally, we can connect with colleagues in various regions and of various identities to ensure the message will resonate and engage the target audience. Moreover, we will always have access to diversity of thought, and that is crucial for communications. Different perspectives raise important questions and insights that can help inform the overall message. Diversity ensures that a collective voice is present, not a dominant one.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in communications?​

  • Read a lot. Write a lot. Listen a lot. And to quote Ted Lasso who quoted Walt Whitman, “Be curious. Not judgmental.”
  • Read fiction/nonfiction/news—whatever it is, keep reading: it will help with your writing and analyzing.
  • Write short stories, personal essays, random notes in your journal; it will help with your strategizing, creativity and seeing the big picture.
  • Listen to people on the subway, colleagues walking down the halls where you’re interning, strangers at a restaurant: Listen and connect the dots. You’ll be surprised what phrases and words jump out at you that lead to a spark and amounts to a full-on campaign.

“Be curious. Not judgmental.”—always—that will help both personally and professionally.

And one more thing: Don’t be concerned if your career doesn’t start out as expected (the beginning of my career was like a pinball machine). You’ll end up where you should be, and you’ll learn a lot along the way.

What is your favorite part of your job right now?​

I love being able to spotlight our employees and the amazing work they’re part of; whether they were involved in a product release or donated goods to a local charity. I also have the privilege of being involved with the CSR work going on at Progress. To be able to meet our scholarship recipients, hear from organizations we’ve donated to, and help communicate all the great work coming out of our CSR program, Progress for Tomorrow; it keeps the heart in the work.

What advice would you give to people who want to start their own version of Progress for Her at their companies?​

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, have a clear mission statement that can guide your programming, be okay with learning as you go, and always remember the main reason why you wanted to start that ERG in the first place.

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

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