the art of managing from "Madame the General" – Shipping Ganja Dispensary Vancouver Canada

Brigadier-General Jennie Carignan completes her term at the head of the 2e Canada Division a year earlier than planned. She is called to command this fall the NATO mission in Iraq. Experiences and lessons of a manager of a very particular type.

Marc Tison
Marc Tison
The Press

She wanted to be a ballerina.

She commands thousands of soldiers.

She is the mother of four children.

She maintains her shooting skills.

She dances flamenco.

Brigadier-General Jennie Carignan is astonished.

His adviser had specified by email: it's called "Madame the General". Without final e.

"We have a little bit in the head hair this week," commented on August 14, in his office Garrison Montreal.

The next day she was leaving her position as commander of the 2e Canada and Joint Task Force East Division.


On August 15, Jennie Carignan was promoted to major-general, which earned her a second maple leaf of general on her epaulettes.

She was the first woman to hold these positions.

She is ending her term one year ahead of schedule to take over from Major-General Dany Fortin at the head of the NATO mission in Iraq, whose Canadian command is extended by one year.

She will be the first woman to hold these positions.

On this occasion, she is promoted to the rank of major-general. But forget the big uniform and the bar of decorations.

This August 14, she wears the traditional lattice with camouflage pattern, on an olive t-shirt. The neophyte eye does not distinguish it from its subordinates, except to the respect they have for it.

The brigadier-general is at work.

Unlimited liability

A year earlier, in June 2018, we met her when she took command of the 2e Division. His office is now emptied of the personal objects that animated him.

"It was a very dynamic year, we had a year of high readiness," she describes, as a summary. The 2e Division supplied the troops abroad. Since July 2018, we had between 1000 and 1200 people permanently deployed. "

His troops have been sent to Mali, Ukraine, Iraq, Latvia, as many theaters of operations that have requested specific preparation and where his duties have called.

I go to the commanders in the field, ask them questions, see if they have considered all the good tactical and operational aspects, if they are doing the right exercises, if their situational knowledge is good.

Brigadier-General Jennie Carignan

"I always work with a team. I give intentions, directions, goals to achieve, and then make sure it's done. Basically, that's it, my job. "

Under these seemingly typical tasks of any senior executive hides a fundamental difference.

The military commander "has what is called unlimited liability. What that means is that I can ask someone to risk their life, which a manager can not ask for. "

Ballet, armored and Aristotle

Born in Asbestos, Jennie Carignan dreamed of being a ballerina. "It's the career I was targeting when I was in high school. "

Reason instead led her to science at CEGEP, where, in search of action, she applied for admission to the Collège militaire de Saint-Jean. In 1990, she obtained a degree in engineering fuels and materials, as evidenced by the rush of engineers she wears to the right little finger.

"I think that what has contributed a lot to my development is education," she says. Military and strategic studies in history, philosophy, sociology … "


Jennie Carignan in Ukraine, last February

To expand her managerial arsenal, she completed an MBA at Laval University and a Masters in Military Arts and Science at the United States Army School of Advanced Military Studies.

"We study all the great military thinkers, who themselves were inspired by the philosophers of the time, be it Aristotle, Plato, Rousseau, all the political philosophers from the Enlightenment to the modern era. "

At first sight, one can not imagine a soldier anymore than an electrician studying the Enlightenment.

Rude prejudices …

I apply it every day, in my way of doing things, making decisions.

Jennie Carignan

But still ?

"I dropped a little the linear way of thinking. As military, culturally, we are fine planners. We are able to plan a battle from scratch until we reach the goal, with decision points. Unfortunately, when we enter the reign of strategy, things rarely happen as we thought it was going to happen. "

What is called " the fog of war – the fog of war.

"Exactly. I am now much more comfortable with uncertainty and in chaos. It accelerated my pace of decision.

"How am I leading? I bet on the phenomenal potential that is in every person, whatever it is. They are not the same skills, strengths or weaknesses. The beauty of a team is that we can make all those people work together to build on each other's strengths. It's very simple, my business! "

Beard and cannabis

His passage at the head of the 2e Division was marked by two small revolutions: the authorization of the wearing of the beard in the army, in September 2018, and the legalization of cannabis, a month later.

The two decisions are independent, but they combine to form the rather non-martial image of baba cool with a flowery beard blushing on his joint.

"For the oldest of us, who are used to seeing men clean-shaven, it's a culture shock," says the brigadier-general.

She used her sociohistorical studies to contextualize the return to grace of facial hair.

"We went back to see, historically, where this beard came from. And that's how I explained it. "

"Same for cannabis," she adds.

I personally intervened with my commanders, two levels down, to make sure that the change was going to take place in an elegant way.

Jennie Carignan


"Disciplined and respectful of everyone," she explains. Because again, I bet on trust. They are told they are professional, they are told that they are relying on them when there are seizures, so I said I counted on them to manage their cannabis use as they manage their alcohol use or cigarettes. And frankly, it went well. "

Because trust is a fundamental pillar of his leadership.

"I trust people until they show me the opposite. "

The opposite does not happen often, she says.

Shooting and flamenco

The new mission of Jennie Carignan will be to "help the Iraqi army to develop a professional armed force".

Why was it chosen?

"We are trying to send a general who has had some command posts before. I've been in Syria, Israel, I spent 10 months in Afghanistan … So the experience with NATO and my experience as a division commander builds credibility when you get there. "

She has two months to prepare for her mission, "just to know the context of Iraq, the government, its army".

"And of course there is a normal military preparation that every soldier must do before leaving: weapons handling, first aid …"

Surprise: a general must handle weapons!

Yes, we must always be up-to-date in our shooting skills and all that is basic in nuclear and biological warfare – how to properly use our protective equipment, among others.

Jennie Carignan

"And of course, there is a preparation to do with my family, so that she is comfortable with my departure and my absence. "

She has three young adult children and a 12-year-old daughter who is still at home.

She took painting classes with her.

"I've always loved the arts, I've always loved music, I've always loved dancing," says Brigadier-General. I continued even while I was a soldier.

"There, I discovered a passion with flamenco, I love it. "

The military career did not smother the little ballerina.

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