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Young Memorial Lecture: III & IV Years All Ears to Presentation Given by “Top Gun”

Caption: College principal, Dr Harry Kowal (L) joined guest lecturer – BGen (ret) Greg Matte and commandant, BGen Al Meinzinger during part of the Young Memorial Lecture.

The John Douglas Young Memorial Lecture – 2013


The John Douglas Young Memorial Lecture was first established in 1985 through the generosity of the Young Family, in particular College No. 2552 William H. Young and his brother College No. 2581 A.B. (Ben) Young, in association with the Royal Military Colleges Club of Canada Foundation Inc.

The lecture and the corresponding visit are held in honor of Major J.D. Young who graduated from the College with distinction in 1937.

The feature presentation was given to the III & IV Years in the Cadet Dining Hall, by 15148 BGen (ret) Gregory C.P. Matte – Executive Director – Helmets to Hardhats. He is a Fighter Weapons Instructor “Top Gun” graduate with over 2500 hours on fighter aircraft, and has a Masters Degree in Defence Management and Planning from RMCC.

13261 LCol Larry Paziuk – Staff Assistant to the Principal was the OPI for the visit.

Traditionally wide latitude has been given to the lecturers in defining the scope of their Young Memorial Lecture. Previous Young Memorial Lecturers have concentrated on a wide range of topics that have included the personal qualities found in successful leaders, aspects of corporate leadership in business, and political leadership in the global context. As such the Young Memorial Lecture has been given by authors, scientists, business leaders Olympic athletes, and astronauts.

Included in the day was a formal lunch including staff and cadets; a tour of the college and a visit to the Museum. Most of this was new as BGen (ret) Greg Matte spent four years at Royal Roads Military College –  graduating in 1985.

The “Top Gun” graduate is active in martial arts too and holds a 1st dan black belt in Taekwon Do; so it was no surprise that during the visit he trained with the RMCC TKD team for well over an hour.

A worthy presenter for such a prestige and high-profile event, for sure!

Cadet Perspective

We requested and received permission to have 26670 NCdt II Katherine Silins – a regular volunteer correspondent for e-Veritas to sit in on the presentation by BGen (Ret) Matte geared to the III & IV Year officer-cadets. Following is her report:

This Wednesday morning, the third and fourth years had the pleasure of attending a presentation from BGen (Ret’d) Gregory C.P. Matte, a graduate of Royal Roads Military College. It was refreshing to be reminded of the opportunities that exist after military college life, both in the CF and beyond. BGen Matte is the National Executive Director of Helmets to Hardhats, an organization that provides opportunities to those who have served in the CF to pursue trade fields in civilian life.

The presentation was not only about this transition, but transformational leadership as well. Three quotes defined the speech, the first from Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” This quote summarized the first portion of the talk, when BGen Matte explained that the first step to transformational leadership was mastery of self: deciding to make a difference, then building the knowledge and experience to gain the wisdom to understand what that knowledge is telling you.

It is also important to be credible as a leader. Subordinates will see through bad leadership very quickly. BGen Matte explained that leadership by example was key – as leaders, we must be able to do whatever we are asking our subordinates to do. This distinction is the difference between leadership and management: “Management is about doing things right… Leadership is about doing the right things.”

Finally, BGen Matte explained the difference between tactical and institution leadership – tactical leaders work with small, high performing groups while institutions need managers who lead by understanding what is going on at every level. “Some people see things and ask why. I dream things that never were and ask why not?” This quote from Robert F. Kennedy demonstrates the persistence required to make change at an institutional level.

After the description of the high level of leadership that is expected in the “real” CF, it was easy to follow BGen Matte’s explanation of why applicants with prior military service are highly sought after in the civilian sector – high responsibility, great ability to learn, teach and grow, credible and good teamwork skills. He also cautioned us that the civilian sector has downsides, as it is usually focused on the bottom line, has a short timeline, little sense of fraternity and little strategic planning.

This Wednesday morning was an excellence way to finish off first semester PMT, leaving seniors with food for thought and very excited about possible future careers.

What Gregory C.P. Matte Had to Say…

J’aimerais vous remercier très sincèrement pour votre invitation et votre chaleureux hospitalité pour moi, ma fille Natasha et mon fils Joshua, pendant notre visite au Collège militaire royal du Canada hier.

As an ex-cadet who spent a military career downplaying his CMC background while always having been extremely grateful for having been given the opportunity to attend such a prestigious institution, it was a profound honour and privilege to be asked to address the senior staff and Cadets on the vital subject of effective leadership.

The Major John Douglas Young Memorial Lecture is a remarkable, lasting tribute to an outstanding RMC Cadet and fallen hero on the Normandy beaches during D-Day. His exemplary service and selfless sacrifice for the values, interests and reputation of Canada serve, through this Memorial Lecture, as an excellent means to further infuse the future leaders within the Cadet wing of their responsibility to not only fulfill their own potential, but to share this gift for the betterment of their country and fellow Canadians. I have no doubt that some of those in attendance at the lecture yesterday will go on to make significant contributions over the course of their lifetime, both in and out of uniform, that will make us all proud.

Bravo à vous tous pour vos efforts dans la développement et formation de nos cadets, et pour votre contribution importante dans la préservation et perpétuation d’un institution très important non seulement pour les Forces armées Canadiens, mais pour l’avenir de Canada!

15148 BGen (Ret) Gregory C.P. Matte