Life is full of surprises, and when they come, hold on for a ride. That was the message from two Durham College alumni on April 3 during a session called “Alumni in the Pit” sponsored by the Marketing and Advertising programs.
Russ Montague and Ian Ball are both CEOs of their companies and have made it big.
Montague attended Durham’s Advertising program when it was still a two-year program; it is now three.
His business, Shirt Punch, is based on pop culture and has been on the rise since 2011.
His shirts have geeky logos. Some are of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. His company also hopes to start a new toy line, he said.
Ian Ball was in the Marketing program until 2002 and continued at Ryerson University where he graduated in 2004.
These days, he is president of McEwen Mining Inc.– a position he has held for the past year – and is planning on expanding the company’s gold mine in Mexico.
The key ingredient, they agreed, was taking what they knew and being passionate about it.
“Everything I learned here is the basis for what I do now,” said Montague.
Ball explained to the students that he never sent Gold Corp.’s CEO a resume at the time he was applying.
He kept in contact with the CEO as much as he could through email instead.
“When I started at Durham College I was two points from being on academic probation,” Ball said. “It was the tough love that led me to mature.”
Montague said the L-wing was his sanctuary, like it is now for most artistic students.
“Going through the program, it lets you touch a little bit of everything,” he said.
“With a little bit of knowledge, you’re actually fearless,” he added.
Montague was the student who didn’t have a plan, and was unsure of his career.
“I was your typical, fade into the background guy,” he said.
For Ball, he was inspired by his classmates.
“(A classmate) was always curious. He always had these questions, and he always talked to the teacher after,” he said. Not only the teachers, but his peers also motivated him to success.
Ball and Montague both have contributed to the Durham Region community to help students.