Gillian Fairley: “You don’t have to start a business alone”

April 28th, 2015

If you’re looking to start a business, grow your company, or throw around ideas with an experienced and knowledgeable individual, head over the Small Business Enterprise Centre and ask for Gillian Fairley. A Laurier business grad and certified project management professional (PMP), Gillian moved here from Toronto 6 years ago; a former Collingwood weekender, she and her husband decided to raise their children here, and made the move permanent.

Gillian has over 12 years of project management experience. She spent 6 years at Deloitte Consulting Services, an international company. Working with clients such as General Motors, Gillian travelled to Sweden, Germany and the US to provide risk management consulting services. Gillian is now approaching her 5 year anniversary as Manager of the South Georgian Bay Small Business Enterprise Centre, a role in which she has consulted to over 750 entrepreneurs in the region at all stages of their business development.

First Hand Experience

Prior to moving to the area, Gillian started and ran an independent consulting practice, and then a partnership, helping companies launch products. The most interesting project she was involved with was the launching of Cry Translator, a baby monitor that uses sound algorithms to decode a baby’s cries. Gillian was involved in the website creation, the product plan, radio ads and press releases to promote this product.

Living & Working in Collingwood

When not working, Gillian spends time with her two children, and enjoys skiing, biking, and the local beaches.  One of her favourite things to do in Collingwood is explore the vast network of trails that run through town.

Working for the Small Business Enterprise Centre has allowed Gillian to establish connections in the community, which she finds rewarding on both a personal and professional level. Her goal as a consultant is to simplify what can be a difficult process for business start-ups, help guide entrepreneurs through the process, and connect clients with the resources they need. Recently, Gillian has also acted as project manager on the development of a 5-Year Economic Development Strategy to guide business development in Collingwood.

Working for the Small Business Enterprise Centre has deepened her respect for entrepreneurs taking the leap to start their own business. If Gillian could offer one piece of advice to business owners, it would be this: “You don’t have to start or manage your business  alone. There are many resources available. Operating a business can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Get the support you need- from mentors, friends, family, and services like the Enterprise Centre.”

Youth Entrepreneurship

Gillian finds providing one-on-one consultations the most rewarding aspect of her position.  The opportunity to interact with small business owners and provide meaningful advice and assistance is very gratifying.

The two provincial programs offered by the Centre, Starter Company and Summer Company, extend these consultations to offer hands-on experience to participants. Through these programs, Gillian gets to see the business evolve, provide guidance as needed, and experience the success of local youth entrepreneurs.  As part of the program, Gillian developed a formal mentorship program for young entrepreneurs where the art has become matching up these entrepreneurs with some of the amazing mentors available in the community. Having the right mentors is important to support the journey that these youth take to becoming successful business owners.

Things you didn’t know about Gillian:

  • Gillian was born in South Africa
  • Gillian is an avid photographer and has experience processing pictures herself using a  darkroom
  • Gillian can water ski and has even tried barefoot water skiing
  • Gillian is a DIY home improvement enthusiast


Gillian organizes numerous events for community business partners. This past March, she ran an event entitled “Making Connections: A Learning & Networking Event for Women,” which encouraged female business professionals to reach their full potential.  She also works closely with Georgian College on Food Entrepreneurship initiatives.

When Gillian isn’t travelling to meet clients in Clearview, Wasaga Beach or the Town of the Blue Mountains, she can often be found in her office, coffee in hand, calling clients, writing reports, and working on projects to help small businesses grow & succeed.

Gillian is located at the Business Development Centre at 105 Hurontario Street.


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