NSB Logo General Rick Hillier (Ret) General Rick Hillier (Ret)

General Rick Hillier (Ret)

Speaker Exclusive

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Chair of the Ukrainian World Congress' Strategic Advisory Council & Former Chief of the Defence Staff

Rick Hillier’s passion, leadership and outspoken nature have captured the hearts and minds of Canadians across the country. A man who takes pride in his country, his team and the significance of his mission, General Hillier is one of Canada’s most celebrated leaders. Hillier tells it like it is – with confidence and a straight-talking manner – as he helps organizations strengthen their leadership skills and understand geopolitical events. As Chief of the Defence Staff, Canada’s highest-ranking position in the Canadian Forces, he oversaw Canada’s most important mission in Afghanistan. General Hillier currently serves as the Chair of the Ukrainian World Congress’ Strategic Advisory Council. 

Keynote Speeches

Leadership in Tough Times

With much opportunity on the horizon, many of us are called on to take on leadership roles or strengthen existing leadership skills & teams. Despite what many used to believe, leadership is not a “top-down” concept. It is cultivated with humility and discipline and merges the passion of the heart with the ability of the mind. 

A proven leader, General Hillier has held the role of Chief of the Defence Staff, been called on to lead the distribution task force for vaccines in Ontario, and is currently the Chair of the Ukrainian World Congress’ Strategic Advisory Council. Based on his years of experience, Hillier teaches audiences that leadership is all about people—embracing those you are in charge of and winning over those you need to work with—not about risk aversion or management fads.

Whether on the front lines of a business or in any situation that requires strong communication and vision, this presentation will prepare leaders to go with their gut and make the tough decisions look easy. 

Key Takeaways from this presentation include:

  • How to accept failure and remain perpetually optimistic
  • How to act out of moral courage
  • How to take advantage of crisis and act
Global Affairs & Unfolding Events

Watching global events unfold and wondering how they might impact your organization? General Hillier is here to help your audience understand current geopolitical challenges and unpack events from around the globe. As Chair of the Ukrainian World Congress’ Strategic Advisory Council and with his experience as the former Chief of Defence, Hillier has extensive experience navigating current global affairs from a leadership perspective. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The implications of current events on your organization
  • Strategies and tactics to help you lead through extraordinary times
50 Points of Wisdom For Today's Leaders

General Rick Hillier’s views on leadership evolved over his three decades as a soldier. Early in his career he watched as many of his superiors made bad decisions. Later he learned at the school of hard knocks as the head of emergency rescue operations in Canada and international task forces in eastern Europe and Afghanistan. Based on his best-selling book, Leadership: 50 Points of Wisdom For Today’s Leaders, Hillier gives audiences a frank, straightforward, and often humorous look at leadership.

For Hillier, leadership is all about people—embracing those you are in charge of and winning over those you need to work with—not about risk aversion or management fads. Leaders think long and have a plan. Their actions speak, not their words, and they make their own luck. But leaders also act out of moral courage, take advantage of crises, accept failure and remain perpetually optimistic. Whether on the front lines of a business or in any situation that requires strong communication and vision, leaders go with their gut and make the tough decisions look easy.

Audience reviews:

  • We were very, very happy with Rick Hillier. He did a great job of tying in his presentation to our business, he had people laughing and crying, and he really got them energized... he was wonderful to deal with – pleasant, easy going, not demanding, flexible with our last minute changes of schedule. Absolutely nothing but good things to say.

    - Director, Corporate Events at CIBC
  • He is remarkable. The feedback has been exceptionally positive. The General captivated the crowd...Absolutely the best. I'd highly recommend him.

    - President of the Phoenix Group
  • Unstoppable. Immensely persuasive. Steeped in Newfoundlander charm. Magnetic leader. More impressive than any politician in Ottawa. Ask about a soldier named Rick Hillier and the superlatives never cease.

    - The Globe and Mail
  • The response to your keynote has been overwhelming. Employees told me they could have listened to you “for hours”,... Every employee I have spoken to was just so inspired, loved the stories, and enjoyed the laughter (but some shed a few tears too).

    - Microsoft Canada
  • General Hillier was able to captivate the audience at the end of a long day/week which says a great deal in and of itself. His humour punctuating very serious issues was incredibly effective. His message about the importance of character and candour to leadership resonated well with the students.

    - Ivey Business School
  • It was great! Without question the General brings the crowd to their feet every time. The feedback was 100% positive. Rick is absolutely the best there is, he not only makes everyone around him feel so good to be there celebrating the Mounties 150 Anniversary but, he spends his time without hesitation doing interviews for the media and resulting feedback is totally positive. We would endorse the General anytime there is a need for feedback. - Executive Director, The Outreach Centre (150th Anniversary RCMP Dinner)

Speaker Biography

General Rick Hillier is a Canadian army officer who served as the Chief of the Defence Staff, the top-ranking officer in the Canadian military, from 2005 to 2008. Throughout his career, General Hillier has had the privilege and pleasure of commanding troops from the platoon to multi-national formation level within Canada, Europe, Asia and the United States. He has worked as a staff officer in several headquarters, first at the Army level in Montreal and later at the strategic level in Ottawa.

Hillier was recently appointed as Chair of the Strategic Advisory Council by the Ukrainian World Congress where he offers support and advocacy for the Ukraine’s defence militia and is an advisor the military side where the council can be of support or assistance. As part of this role, General Hillier is championing the #UniteWithUkraine campaign, which has been helping procure non-lethal protective equipment for Ukrainians since shortly after the war began. Hillier’s skills and experience in international diplomacy, defence, procurement, intelligence, logistics, communications, law and fundraising will support the civilian defenders in Ukraine’s Territorial Defence Force. 

In 2024, Hillier is championing a new initiative – Heroes Among Us.  

“We want to tell the stories of those heroes who line every road we take. We will do so with stories in the National Post, online distribution with Historica Canada, and every other avenue available to tell their stories. Inspire Canadians, new and old, young and mature, Indigenous and the newest immigrants. Let them be inspired by the incredible examples of service to our nation, to our ideals and for causes that are worthy of risking — and sometimes losing — your life. By doing so, we not only pay tribute to their sacrifices but also reinforce the values that define us as a nation.”

In late November 2021, Premier Doug Ford announced that General Hillier would chair the province’s task force coordinating the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines from their arrival through delivery to health units to distribution to Ontario residents. Hillier implemented the COVID-19 immunization program using his logistical expertise and insight to help develop a vaccine distribution plan and navigate the many challenges getting infrastructure in place to ensure the success of Ontario’s vaccination program.

Born in Newfoundland and Labrador, General Rick Hillier joined the Canadian Forces as soon as he could. Having enrolled in the Canadian Forces in 1973 through the Regular Officer Training Plan program, he graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science Degree. After completing his armour officer classification training, he joined his first regiment, the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) in Petawawa, Ontario. Subsequently, he served with, and later commanded, the Royal Canadian Dragoons in Canada and Germany.

In 1998 General Hillier was appointed as the first Canadian Deputy Commanding General of III Corps, US Army in Fort Hood, Texas. In 2000 he took command of NATO’s Stabilization Force’s (SFOR) Multinational Division (Southwest) in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In May 2003 General Hillier was appointed as Commander of the Army and subsequently, in October 2003, he was selected as the Commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan. General Hillier was promoted to his present rank and assumed duties as the Chief of the Defence Staff on 4 February 2005.

He retired from the Canadian Forces in July 2008, and was subsequently appointed as chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 2009, Hillier co-founded Project Hero, a scholarship program for the children of Canadian Forces personnel killed while on active military duty.

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