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Management: Providing custom solutions

Management: Providing custom solutions

Written On: 05 January, 2018
Category: Academic Alumni Business
Related programs:  Business Administration

There are some amazing career opportunities in Southwestern Manitoba. And Matthew Russell found one of them. He parlayed his Business Administration diploma from Assiniboine into a job with Custom Software Solutions in his home town of Virden, where the company’s head office is located, and hasn’t look back.

“I went straight from college to work for this company,” Russell said. “I started in February of 2006 on the support desk working directly with clients, doing troubleshooting, training, and customer support. Then in October or November of that year, I moved into the position I’m in now – account manager.”

At that time, Custom Software dealt primarily in western Canada. But three years later, the company broke into eastern Canada, and now also has employees all across the U.S. and the U.K., as well as in China, India, and South Africa.

“We learned long ago that if we wanted to hire professional help, not everyone's going to want to move to small-town Manitoba,” Russell said. “So we've given people the flexibility to work from home. It allows us to attract a lot of professional people with industry experience that we wouldn't otherwise get working for us.”

Custom Software Solutions builds software for all aspects of the insurance business – insurance companies, insurance brokers, and insurance wholesalers. And the company employs more than 100 people around the world.

When Russell was taking Business Management in the Business Administration program, he never imagined doing a job of this magnitude. In fact, he wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to do.

“I started at ACC in Finance,” Russell said. “And I didn't hate it, but I wasn't 100 per cent sure that was the avenue I wanted to take. So my second year, once we started getting into some of the specialized management classes, I switched to Business Management just to give me a broader perspective.”

His job on the Custom Software Solutions helpdesk was his introduction to the company, but once he accepted the account management position, he found what he’d been looking for. 

“I knew I wanted to do something with computers and technology, … and once I moved into account management, I could really grasp where our company fit into the marketplace, as well as envision how the company could grow in the marketplace.”

There are several perks in his job that Russell enjoys, but perhaps the most intriguing one involves a somewhat unusual mode of transportation.

“It's funny – the president and the CEO of our company are both pilots,” Russell said. “They actually bought a small, 12-seater personalized jet. So here we are, a small company in Virden, Manitoba, and if we have a business meeting in Toronto, we’ll jump in the plane and fly to Toronto in two hours and do a meeting and then fly back home!”

What he studied at Assiniboine fully prepared him for all the situations he’s encountered in his career, Russell said. Whether it’s demonstrations of the company’s products in private meetings, or showcasing them at trade shows, running training sessions, tending to existing clients or courting new ones, there’s never a dull moment. And Russell is ready for whatever each day brings.

“In Business Management, the biggest takeaway for me was the technical knowledge I learned,” Russell said. “Some of the office programs really helped too. You can tell the education I've had, because when I work with other people, I definitely have a greater understanding of everything, like manipulating data in reports … to working on proposals and presentations.

“Business management gave me a very general knowledge of the overall business environment – the economical side, the finance side, as well as the management side – how to work with people, how to manage a team through a project. And being in sales, a lot of the presentation courses I took have paid dividends, too.

“What I like about ACC is that everything we did was hands on. A lot of my technical training at ACC slid right into what I'm doing today. So it was really helpful.” 

To find out how you can be successful like Matthew Russell, visit and find out more about the Business Management specialization in Business Administration at Assiniboine.