Merging health care with construction: Ottawa businesswomen of the year nominee Kyla Cullain

Next Step Transitions CEO nominated in emerging entrepreneur category
Kyla Cullain

On April 20, the Women’s Business Network will honour 12 of Ottawa’s leading women entrepreneurs at its Businesswoman of the Year gala. The nominees are divided into four categories: Emerging entrepreneur; established entrepreneur; organization; and professional. OBJ will profile each nominee leading up to the event.

Kyla Cullain is the CEO and founder of Next Step Transitions, Ottawa’s only nurse-managed construction company. Through accessible renovations, Next Step Transitions is helping to create barrier-free homes and communities.

What is your proudest business accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment has been in creating an industry that has successfully merged health care with construction, and is actively improving accessibility for some of Ottawa’s most vulnerable populations. From helping seniors to stay independent at home to opening up wheelchair access in storefronts or restaurants, we get to help people of every age and ability to fully participate in our homes, workplaces and neighbourhoods. Our society is healthier when we all work to create inclusive, socially just communities, and I’m grateful to contribute in any part to this movement.

Who is your greatest inspiration?

My parents are established entrepreneurs and have successfully run CBM Elevators together for more than 30 years. The standard to work hard and succeed was set high at a young age, but this was always met by the need for compassion, philanthropy and laughter to supersede any of our endeavors. I’m so fortunate to have my greatest inspirers feel like my best friends, family and mentors are all wrapped in one.

What is the biggest professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

In the beginning, it was a challenge to establish relationships in the construction industry as a female. In some cases, I was even told that men would only speak with my partner. Fortunately, this just made me hungrier and my husband a stauncher feminist; so, I’m actually grateful for these obstacles! It’s also helped me capitalize on my strengths as a woman in a male-dominated trade, which has been hugely beneficial in working with my female clients. Challenges will continue to arise, but I’d rather climb the mountain than turn around. It’s all part of the fun.

What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?

“Forget what other people are doing. The only competition you need to worry about is yourself.” – my dad.