Dr. Siomonn Pulla attends military exercise

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Ricardo Manmohan and Dr Siomonn Pulla

While many of us look forward to spending our vacation time hiking in the coastal mountains or kayaking around the Gulf Islands, some Canadian reservists spend their vacation time sweltering in HAZMAT suits, solving complex field logistics, and testing their personal leadership skills through extreme physical activities and mental stress.

This past August I was very excited when Ricardo Manmohan (DSocSci 2014) invited me (his supervisor) to participate in The Canadian Forces Liaison Council’s EXECUTREK as an observer of Exercise Kootenay Cougar 2014. Together with a handful of other executives from across British Columbia, I spent a day in the mountains of Trail, British Columbia observing an approximately $1.6 million week-long exercise of British Columbia’s 39 Canadian Brigade Group. The Canadian Reserve Force is an exceptional organization, and I was incredibly impressed with how they were able to pull together the multiple complex pieces of the exercise that included over 12 different training stations for soldiers, and approximately 400 reserve forces personnel. One of the main lessons I learned from observing Exercise Kootenay Cougar 2014 is how hard these dedicated Canadian reservists work in their spare time.

One of the most exciting elements of being a Professor in the Doctor of Social Sciences program at Royal Roads University is the opportunity to meet and work with such an awesome diversity of students who are so passionate about working to integrate their practitioner level experiences into their scholarly work. These students bring such a rich background of professional experiences to the classroom that enriches and builds upon the interdisciplinary framework of our program. 

I am always very happy to provide a space for our students to show up authentically, to support them in connecting the dots between their professional and academic work—something that has been and continues to be extremely important to me as a scholar-practitioner.

In the reserves, Ricardo serves as a captain with The Royal Westminster Regiment. In his professional life he hosts outdoor adventure leadership and team-building programs out of Tofino, to develop leaders and strengthen teams within communities and the corporate world. As a Royal Roads University scholar, Ricardo is working on a collaborative doctoral research project with rural First Nations on Vancouver Island. He has been invited by the communities to establish community-based leadership solutions at both youth and adult levels in an effort to develop the future leadership capacity of the communities.

Having the opportunity to observe Ricardo in the field commanding his troops reminded me that scholar-practitioners come from a variety of backgrounds and practices. The kinds of experiential learning opportunities provided by participation in major military exercises like Kootenay Cougar 2014 can provide deep level personal transformations for our students that can translate into rich sources of insights into themselves and their work. After seeing how hard reservists like Ricardo work in their spare time, it is a very easy decision for me to support and encourage Ricardo’s participation in active military service, and a great honour to be part of his Royal Roads journey as he works to connect the dots between his experience as an active military leader and his contributions and reflections on his emerging scholarly project.