Robert Madej (MMath ’94), CEO of PureFacts Financial Solutions Inc., was a young man with a plan. His dream was to study mathematics and start a business, and he was going to make it happen. But his high school guidance counsellor had doubts and encouraged him to become a math teacher or an actuary instead, both lucrative professions with job security. Despite the counsellor’s best efforts, there was no changing Madej’s mind.
The words of his mother, Suzanne Casey (BMath ’92), were already ingrained in him: “You can do anything” she’d say, “do what you love.” And Madej believed her. So his guidance counsellor gave him some good advice and suggested he pursue a math degree from a school with an entrepreneurial spirit. The University of Waterloo’s exceptional math program and innovative co-operative education option would give him the strong foundation needed to achieve his dream. He’d study with brilliant mathematicians, gain real-world business experience, and could graduate without debt. It was a clear choice.
When Madej applied to study Pure Math at the University of Waterloo, his mother decided to pursue her dream of a math degree as well. There were those who told her it would be impossible, but she too believed that she could do anything. Determined to succeed, Casey quit her job as a nurse in Montreal, enrolled in the Faculty of Math at the University of Waterloo, and began working part-time as a nurse at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener.
Looking back on those university days, she remembers studying hard, rushing to get to class and work on time, and coming home to a kitchen full of math students helping each other get through the term. “It was a lot of work but we kept going,” recalls Casey. This determination not only helped mother and son achieve math degrees from Waterloo, graduating together on the same day, it also helped Casey start running marathons at the age of 50. She has finished numerous half marathons and 11 full marathons, running two of them side-by-side with her son.
Madej describes the joy of learning, love for each other, and resilience as being at the core of their family: “My mom’s my hero. She gave me and my brothers the gift of unconditional love and an unwavering belief in ourselves. We understood we could do anything, and with entrepreneurship in my DNA, I spent all my time thinking about what ‘anything’ looks like. I still think like this.”
PureFacts Financial Solutions grew out of a software company Madej started with his brother 25 years ago. The growing wealthtech firm creates products that solve complex challenges with advanced mathematics, data analytics, and AI. Today, PureFacts has offices in Zurich, Lisbon, and Toronto and is recognized as a global leader in fee billing and revenue management. He’s living his dream and is now helping others try to achieve theirs.
Madej believes that starting a business is one of the most positive ways you can make an impact on the world, helping to provide amazing jobs and opportunities for others to live up to their potential. The PurePossibilities program created through the company is their commitment to giving back. This program awards scholarships in various disciplines to ambitious and motivated students in Canada and Europe, including two scholarships in the faculties of Mathematics and Engineering at the University of Waterloo.
Supporting new graduates is beneficial for our country, he explains. Debt can delay them from starting their own business, buying a house, or investing in something where they can build wealth themselves. PurePossibilities helps students start pursuing their goals right away. He encourages everyone to “dream big, ask questions, and go for it. It’s possible that you’ll accomplish more than you’ve imagined.”
Early on, there were times Madej was told his ideas were never going to work. Today he offers this advice to budding entrepreneurs: “Speak kindly to yourself – there’s no room for self-doubt. I had setbacks and failures too, but nobody remembers those moments: they remember your success. So pick yourself up, don’t be afraid to ask for advice, and keep going. And in the hustle and bustle, in the highs and in the lows, always try to be a great person. That’s what matters most.”