Bryan Gallagher

Bryan Gallagher

Business Development Manager; Adjunct Professor

AGE: 29

COMPANY: Inlailawatash Limited Partnership; SFU Beedie School of Business

The story: Bryan Gallagher’s journey into the study of aboriginal business and culture began in 2008, through a connection with an SFU professor (he graduated with a bachelor in business administration the same year). He was working on an economic development project with the Ahousaht First Nation on the west coast of Flores Island—helping them set up an office, website and welcoming pole for the 11-kilometre Wild Side Trail, which the community had decided to open to tourists. But for the tiny, remote village, the idea proved a hornet’s nest. “There was a lot of discussion about how many tourists they wanted,” he recalls. “They were really trying to strike a balance between wanting the money and the development but not wanting their community to change.” The project inspired Gallagher to pursue a PhD in aboriginal entrepreneurship at SFU. In his thesis, he wanted to address the notion that entrepreneurship is a form of assimilation, because First Nations people have to adopt characteristics of “the white man” to be successful. Through more than 100 interviews (including 30 with indigenous people in Australia), he asked the questions: “What effect does entrepreneurship have on indigenous people’s identity?”; and “Do people integrate their Aboriginal identity into their business?” The answers, he found, were overwhelmingly positive. Gallagher finished his PhD in March 2015 and continues to teach courses in the Aboriginal executive MBA program, where he helps First Nations leaders ensure that complex land deals or other economic projects have lasting positive impacts for their communities. Soon after graduating, Gallagher also took up a post as business development manager with Inlailawatash Limited Partnership, a renewable resource company owned by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver, where he manages branding, business planning and development of the corporation whose industries include fisheries, forestry and GIS mapping services.

Markers of Success: Gallagher won numerous scholarships and grants for his academic work, and in 2013 was one of 10 Canadian business students to win the Futures Fund Scholarship from Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year, an organization founded by Caldwell Partners. He also created an award-winning video that helped to share his research with the First Nations people that participated.