A Short Autobiography

It’s my birthday today. Fifty-eight (58) years ago I was born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. My parents, Bill and Joyce Hillier, had 6 children: 5 boys and 1 girl. I was number 5, the last of the sons but with a younger sister. I was born on my mom’s only sibling, her sister’s birthday. She is 88 today! We didn’t have much of the world’s goods. My Dad was a carpenter (cabinet maker) who was paid just over $3.63/hr and worked six days a week, 10 hours a day. My mom stayed at home with what was no doubt a very heavy workload managing home and family. We didn’t need much to be cared for properly or to have a great childhood. Our needs were covered quite adequately. Our wants, well that was another matter. Like every kid, especially at this time of the year, we all wanted a lot. But our unfulfilled wants did not interfere with our happiness.

My Dad moved us all to Toronto in 1970. We arrived in the big city, 34 years ago today. He wanted all of his kids to have greater opportunities than what Newfoundland could bring to us at the time. His sacrifice became our reward.

When I finished high school and enrolled into college, my goal was to be a teacher. But circumstances did not take me down that path immediately. I married Linda in 1978 and after a few short term employment contracts, joined the Smith Group in 1979. It was a privately owned company. The Chairman and CEO, Lorne, was a great mentor. He taught me accounting, finance, operations and how to lead. His partner, David, taught me sales and marketing. I became a Vice President at age 28 and the first non-family President/CEO at age 39. The advancement and learnings at Smith provided me with all I needed to be successful in so many ways. Eventually, after becoming 1 of 3 shareholders, I made a recommendation to the other 2 shareholders to sell the company. It was sold in January 2001, 14 years ago. I was offered the role as P/CEO for North America of the newly merged company but decided it was time for a change. Based on that decision though I was then without work for the first time in my life.

But I did not panic. I decided to take a much needed rest for a period of one year. Then in February of the following year, 2002, I began Nuvision Consulting Group Inc. From lowly beginnings, until 2007, I had the privilege of working with clients in North America and the Middle East. I met individuals and made friends with people I would not have ever thought life would afford me. I travelled to places others only read about. From Kuwait City, Kuwait to Jeddah, KSA; from Cairo, Egypt to Bahrain; Dahman to Ryhad and then to Dubai. In North America Nuvision took me from New York to California. I had the pleasure of travelling throughout Europe, South East Asia and India. My message always focused on “How to build a High Performance Organization”.

In 2007, the Board of CMA Ontario decided to second me from Nuvision to initiate a restructuring in order to reposition CMA Ontario as the leader for those seeking a professional accounting and business designation. For exactly 7 years, being President & CEO of CMA Ontario was a great experience and we (the entire staff) accomplished what we set out to do. But in July 2014, after a merger with the CAs and the CGAs was completed, I again decided it was time to move on. For the last 5 months, I have once again taken time to refocus, reenergize and restructure.

As mentioned earlier, after I finished college, I was asked what was my intended career path. I wanted to be a teacher. But life’s roads didn’t take me directly there. I experienced many detours. But the past 37 years have been nothing more than preparation for my true calling in life. Having obtained the required academic credentials to be allowed to teach, experience has been the greatest asset.

My professional focus has always been in three areas:

1. Advisory: working with organizations to improve their organization’s effectiveness.

2. Coaching: working with individuals to improve their personal effectiveness.

3. Teaching: working with groups to improve understanding of the intersection between organizational and societal demands and how to manage both and excel.

In 38 years, I have accomplished much. I have accumulated enough of the world’s goods. I do not need any more. I have achieved most of what I set as goals for my life. What I do need though is to have a continued sense of purpose; to be productive; to be passionate.

I came to realize many years ago when I started Nuvision, teaching cannot be confined to a single definition or activity. Teaching takes many forms. Whether I advise clients, coach high potential individuals or share my experience and knowledge with a group of people in a classroom, through a webinar, or with a simple publication such as this, all of these activities are forms of teaching. The magnitude of the opportunity or the scope of the project has little to do with its importance and significance. One life changed is the complete reward.

For 30 years I occupied senior level positions either at the VP or CEO levels. Looking back my discovery was, “In order to be an effective leader, I needed to be an effective teacher”.

So it’s interesting that I had from the beginning chosen teaching as a career and in reality it is what I have been doing all of my life and will continue to do so. Whether in a consulting role or a corporate one, my calling will be fulfilled. My purpose will be realized. My productivity will be at its highest. My passion will be ignited and constantly fuelled.

2015 will be upon us in a few weeks. Looking back, my life was seldom lived as it was planned. But life still offered me the opportunity to realize my dreams and goals. And life will continue to do so.

Respect the past and cherish its most beloved moments. But embrace the future because what is ahead of you, of us, will me more than what many of us would ever think could be possible. Every person we meet, every opportunity presented, every road travelled, may have as its reason a defining moment for us. If we hide from life, if we cocoon ourselves, if we allow ourselves to be paralized by fear, we will never experience the greatness that is ours to become.

May the year 2015, be the year that so wonderfully presents those rewarding  life experiences you never thought possible!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to One and All!


Your Comments are Welcomed!

E. merv@mervhillier.com

T. 416.409.6378

To book Merv Hillier as a keynote speaker, meeting facilitator or coach, please contact us at: info@nuvision.ca.