Companies & Industries

Captains of industry

Veterans form own business network.

(Photo: Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

(Photo: Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

If you were to walk down the street in the United States and tell someone you went to West Point, they would know what that means. If you were to walk down the street in Canada and tell someone you went to RMC—the Royal Military College—well, maybe not. To our discredit, that would hold as true on Bay Street as on Main Street.

Canadian veterans’ organization Treble Victor (3V) is trying to change that. When a veteran crosses over into the business world, the communication skills, the discipline, the organizational capabilities are all complementary to corporate work, says 3V president Tim Patriquin, who is also an investment adviser at RBC. But the first lesson of business school is to tap into your natural network, and veterans, who have often spent years overseas cut off from regular society, often don’t have the contacts they need to make the transition into civilian business.

To fill that need, 3V has created a high-powered network of military veterans. Among their ranks are MP Erin O’Toole (captain, Canadian Armed Forces), Jim Leech, CEO of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (RMC graduate), Tim Hodgson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs Canada (reserve officer, Canadian Armed Forces), and Larry Stevenson, former CEO of Chapters (captain, Canadian Airborne Regiment). Since meeting for the first time in 2007, this grassroots group has grown to 107 members across the country.

When Treble Victor co-founder Mark Walden retired from military service at age 30 (with a bachelor of commerce from RMC and two tours of Bosnia behind him) and started knocking on doors, he found there was nowhere that he could access veteran-to-veteran mentorship. Walden, who is now a director of business finance at BMO, was forced to build his own network to bridge the gap. “I ended up getting in contact with an old friend from the military, who was pivotal to me getting into RBC. He gave me an interview.” From that experience, Walden and co-founder Don Ludlow committed to get together once a month, to network with fellow veterans.

Patriquin, who took advantage of the program, is glad he did. A graduate from RMC with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Patriquin had been posted across Canada, in Croatia and in Bosnia. Once he retired from the Armed Forces, he found a mentor in his own investment adviser, a former military officer. Despite never having worked in financial services or sales, with his leadership skills, “I figured that I could do what was required to become a successful investment adviser.” It wasn’t until after he was hired at the Royal Bank that Patriquin was trained in finance.

“The things that you actually have to learn to do the job are almost secondary,” Patriquin says. Qualities such as discipline and a willingness to stay the course are far more important, as the investment adviser world is “basically a world of attrition.” That is to say, those who succeed are those who stay the longest and work the hardest.

Patriquin feels that when 3V eases the transition from military to business, all Canadians will win. After all, “Taxpayers paid a lot of money for someone to go to an institution like RMC, to train that individual and give them a unique skill set,” he notes. “If they leave the military when they’re 30 or 40, you can still get 20 or 30 years of leadership from that person. This is an untapped resource of people.”