Barbara McLean-Stollery, 32
President, Executive Airways Grooming Services
First of all, understand that none of it was planned. When her dream of becoming a commercial pilot was stymied by the aviation industry’s dive after 9/11, McLean-Stollery took a job with Calgary aircraft detailer Executive Airways to put herself through school in aircraft maintenance engineering. When owner Wayne Kaut realized his kids weren’t interested in the business, he asked if she wanted to buy it. She did, and in five years has grown revenues 500%, expanding from the base at the Calgary International Airport to Edmonton and Springbank. “I took anything, any job, any size,” she says. It would be a crash course in running a business, with a little help from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation and other entrepreneur organizations. Active in her Métis community, McLean-Stollery also has two young children and acts as the guardian of her 14-year-old nephew. Later this year, she will be speaking at the G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit in Nice, France. If she could do it all over again, she says she’d pay closer attention from the outset to her financial books. “I’m really starting to understand what the numbers mean,” she says.
On learning through trial and error: “I wouldn’t have the foresight without the hindsight.”