Rick Hillier

When you remember that leadership is fundamentally about people, you can’t go wrong.

Former Chief of Canada’s Defence Staff—the Canadian Forces’ Highest Rank

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Rick Hillier | Former Chief of Canada’s Defence Staff—the Canadian Forces’ Highest Rank

Defined by his “trademark passion and urgency” (CBC), General Rick Hillier has made tough but necessary decisions during our current war efforts. He’s a remarkable speaker, not because of the positions he’s held, but rather, because of the qualities he projects onto and inspires in others. His lessons make him a public leader worth admiring—and listening to. 

In over three decades of service to his country, General Rick Hillier has remobilized support of Canadian troops, worked closely with Prime Ministers, increased Canada’s significance within NATO, and solidified Canada’s reputation on the world stage. In this time of war, under enormous public scrutiny, Hillier has, time and again, made the tough but needed decisions. In terms of leadership, in terms of diplomacy, in terms of strategy, he has few peers. For thousands of soldiers, he was a hero, “a soldier’s soldier,” and for millions of Canadians, he was the public face of the military during this eventful and tumultuous time in its history.


“Rick Hillier’s rise through the ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces can be likened to a gale force wind. Few individuals in our history have been as single-handedly accomplished at recrafting the nation’s image—particularly to our neighbours ... Hillier once said Canadians need to pay attention to their army. He’s made that happen.”

Globe and Mail

General Hillier has commanded troops around the world, including NATO Forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and was appointed Commander of the Army and Commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan, in 2003. Called a man of “trademark passion and urgency” by the CBC, the straight-talking Hillier has just left his post as Chief of the Defence Staff—the highest ranking position in the Canadian Forces.  


General Hillier is a remarkable, and much sought-after speaker. On stage, Canada’s top soldier displays the full range of his compassion, enthusiasm and leadership acumen, drawing on his unprecedented experience and sharing the lessons that have made him one of this country’s most respected and influential public figures. He is a Newfoundland native and a graduate of Memorial University.    



“General Hillier, it was wonderful to meet you at our event. 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

“Warm, witty and wise, General Rick Hillier is an electric speaker who charges his audience with enthusiasm and is an ideal choice for any conference. After a long day of presentations and panel discussions as part of our International Transportation Summit, General Hillier stepped to the podium to deliver an address on Canada’s military role in the world and the men and women who define that role. His personal anecdotes and slide presentation put a human touch on the Canadian Military and the families that support them. General Hillier engaged and charmed the crowd, with his fast-paced, information-packed and emotion-filled address. He moved grown men to tears. Need I say more?”

Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association

“Gen Hillier’s presentation was just splendid, and he personifies what we are all so proud of in those who serve in the armed forces. He combined stories about his incredible career experiences with great humour, and he has an exceptional ability to connect with his audience. His leadership lessons can be applied to any work environment. He had us all laughing, crying, and wanting to work in Tim Horton’s in Kandahar. He graciously posed for pictures, and signed copies of his new book, which we gave away as very popular door prizes. Thanks for spending time with our group—we are all new fans!”

The Canadian Institute of Underwriters

“As our Conference Opening Keynote Speaker you inspired our conference attendees to reach for greater heights in leadership. Your keynote address directly impacted the overall success of our national conference and was very much appreciated by those in attendance. Your session was the highest rated presentation at the conference. The comments I received from our attendees about your presentation throughout the event were outstanding! We are very appreciative of the time you took to prepare and deliver your candid and inspiring presentation.”

Credit Union Central of Canada

Speech Topics

Frontline Leadership
The men and women of the Canadian Forces have been involved in volatile and high-stress situations the world over, providing aid and support in reaction to conflicts and disasters. These are tough, often dangerous jobs which call for a cool head, quick problem solving, and cooperation. General Hillier has experienced this reality first hand as a career soldier and then Chief of Defence Staff. For him, leadership is all about people: listen to them, communicate with them, recognize their work, and give them a strong example to follow. Using direct examples from his time leading troops across countless global actions, General Hillier’s talk is filled with passion and humour, and is designed to appeal to audiences of all kinds.