In 1986, 15414 Catherine Paquet graduated from CMR Saint Jean, having studied Business Administration, and took the first of two postings she would have before life took some unexpected turns. Paquet’s career plans changed quite quickly when, pregnant with their second child in two years, her husband 11306 Pierre Rivard was transferred to Toronto— and she was not.
“I was left in Ottawa by myself with my newborn and pregnant with the second one, so we just made a decision [for one of us] to leave [the Forces] the earlier the better, just because it was very difficult with a family and being separated,” Paquet recalls. “I was really sad about that, ‘cause I wanted to be a career officer. And we basically chose to go with Pierre because Pierre was a Major, and his career was going very well, so it was just easier for me to move with the kids to be with him.”
Difficult as the decision to leave the Forces was, though, it turned out to be a bit of a career catalyst for Paquet. In Toronto with two young children, she and her husband decided to return to school, completing their Masters degrees simultaneously— scheduling out study nights and family nights over the course of their degrees, and even moving to Brussels for a year on an exchange, they managed to complete their MBAs together while raising two young children.
Leaving the Forces and pursuing her MBA had allowed Paquet to switch gears from her previous education in Business Administration, and instead focus on Management Information Systems— an area of study she had become interested in while at CMR. Though the program had begun too late at the College for her to be enrolled in it, she had become intrigued by what she saw others studying and had taken as many computer courses as she could during the remainder of her time there.
Now with her Masters studies in that field, Paquet, a Reservist, was able to accept a Class C position with the Central Recruiting Area. From 1994-1997, she would work in Networking and build the Wide Area Network for the forty-two Recruiting Centres across Canada.
Following that contract, she accepted a position with Cisco Systems, which at the time was a fairly new company selling routers and switches. Eager to recruit new employees with hands-on experience and who were bilingual, they made Paquet an offer she couldn’t refuse and she signed on with their largest training partner, Global Knowledge.
“I was there as a full-time employee until 2003, and I even became the Director of Technical Resources for Canada, but in 2003, I didn’t really need to work any longer, my husband’s company was doing well,” Paquet recalls. “So I just left, and in 2005 I realized I was really missing the workforce. I had identified myself quite a bit by my job, and you know, there’s just so much tennis you can play in one day and meet with other ladies… it was not really my style, so in 2005 I went back as a Certified Instructor for Cisco.”
Now a published author with nine books released to date under Cisco Press (a division of Pearson Education), Paquet gives training lectures in countries all around the world for Global Knowledge and Cisco Systems in the specialized area of Network Security.
Paquet finds herself oftentimes in such far-flung places as Japan, Nigeria, Kuwait, Spain, Portugal, and the UK, and many places in between— in fact, she has lectured in twenty-two countries worldwide.
Photo caption:CMR prep year 1981. Photo taken on Aug 27, 2013 in the courtyard of 11306 Pierre Rivard and 15414 Catherine Paquet ancestral property in Québec city. Some ex-cadets graduated from CMR, some graduated from RMC in 1986. Catherine – front row – second right. The weekend was organized by 15445 Col Stéphane Roy – fourth gentleman – standing.
When home in Canada, from where she often lectures virtually, Paquet and her husband split their time between their home in Toronto, and what they affectionately refer to as their ‘urban cottage’ in Quebec City, where Paquet was also able to host many of her CMR classmates in 2013 thanks to the organizational efforts of Col. Stéphane Roy.
Almost thirty years after her graduation from CMR, Paquet still recalls fondly her time as the campus’ founding Cadet Wing Band Master, and on the three-time provincial champion Women’s Cross-Country Team.
“I was for four years varsity cross country running, and three of those years we won the provincial pennant actually. We didn’t have any one superstar that was the fastest in the province, but for three years we were the fastest female running team in the province of Quebec,” Paquet recalls proudly. “And we were so few of us. That was the thing that was flabbergasting the other teams. At the time at CMR we were maybe thirty girls on campus, and out of that we were the fastest running team.”
Serving on the board at CMR and having participated in Chasse-Galerie for the first time in 2011 (as the initiative’s first CMR graduate, first female participant, and first French-Canadian— and in fact, she and her husband will be a part of Chasse-Galerie in 2016 as the first ex-cadet couple), Paquet is still very much connected to the College and holds her time there, and the lessons she learned, in high regard. Though much has changed in her life and career since her time at the College, Paquet still holds Truth – Duty – Valour as her personal motto.
“The question comes, [which came first] the chicken or the egg? So do you go to military college because you already have a good sense of work ethic— otherwise you would not make it at military college— or do you develop a great sense of work ethic because of the military college? Probably they both feed on each other,” she explains. “And cramming so much stuff in so little time. There’s something about military college, there’s so much— I was in the band, I was varsity cross-country running… so when you have all those responsibilities, you have your studies, you learn to perform well only with six, seven hours of sleep, with quite a bit of pressure. I think that stays with us, being organized and multitasking. And just being able to take the pressure.”
Busy with her lectures around the world, Paquet and her family still find time to travel annually. Soon, the family will be meeting up in Peru for some camping in the Amazon jungle and a journey to Machu Picchu among other adventures, before her daughter, a civil engineer, moves to Australia (her son is preparing to pursue a nursing degree, after having completed culinary school).
Wherever, globally, life takes her next, it is clear that the lessons learned at CMR will go with Paquet and continue to spur her on to greatness.
Previous Catherine Paquet e-Veritas article.
Jen Ochej is a journalist and freelancer in the music industry, currently completing an internship at Eggplant Entertainment in Toronto as part of the Government of Nova Scotia’s Emerging Music Business Program. She is most often found wherever live music is being played and dreams of one day working as a Tour Manager. She is a regular contributor to e-Veritas and has also contributed an article which was published in the RMC Club Veritas magazine.