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A Student Success Center Success Story

Matt Balthasar and his parents

Matthew Balthasar at his graduation with his late father, Norman, and mother, Susan.

March 2017 | by Ted Stephens III '01, '04

Matthew Balthasar '02 walked away from his St. Ambrose commencement ceremony with a degree in marketing communication and public relations and a "great gig" awaiting.

He took a job at RedPrairie, setting up trade shows and seminars for the commerce software company. "I was flying off to some of our country's greatest cities, staying in really nice hotels, meeting and networking and strengthening relationships with people across the country," he said. "It was a great job out of college, and I made some important connections."

After three years of spending too much time on the road away from his wife, Kelly, and their growing family in Milwaukee, Balthasar decided it was time for change. "At the time, our senior vice president of sales encouraged me to move into the sales division. It wasn't something I had ever considered or expected to do," Balthasar admitted.

Armed with life lessons from his late father, Norman, himself a successful businessman, Balthasar turned his first job out of college into a career. As RedPrairie grew, he grew as well.

Today, he is a senior customer executive at JDA Software Group, which RedPrairie acquired four years ago. He's been with the company almost 14 years and watched it grow from about 250 employees to more than 5,000 today.

"I just wanted a job out of college-I didn't care what it was," he recalled. "During my first week at RedPrairie, one of my bosses warned me that if I stayed longer than three years I would never get out. He was right."

Balthasar said much of what he has accomplished is owed to people who quietly encouraged and guided him along the way. "I wouldn't have gotten through St. Ambrose without the help of Ann Austin. She was a big person in my life," he said. "I had a lot of challenges with my academics, taking notes and preparing for tests."

As the director of reading and study skills in the Student Success Center, Austin helped him overcome his difficulties. "I owe a lot of my degree to her," he said. "It is such a wonderful service that St. Ambrose offers its students-support and encouragement so people like me can be successful in their studies. If I can be of support to others today, I jump at it because of people like Ann."

He recently turned those words into action, stepping onto an Alumni Advisory Council for the university's Communication Department. Service to St. Ambrose is a family tradition. Matthew's mother, Susan Balthasar, is a member of the university's Board of Trustees.

Balthasar said his parents taught him at a very young age the importance of manners and respect toward people, no matter who they are or what they do. They showed, through their actions, that family comes before anything else.

"My parents were always present supporting me, no matter how busy they were," Balthasar said. "In high school, if I had a sporting event, my dad would bring his clients and colleagues to the game. There they'd be, up in the stands with suits and ties on, holding a meeting while cheering me on. It meant a lot to me, and as our girls grow, I hope to be the same type of father for them."

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