Barbara Pasternak is the Vice President of Fluid Hose and Coupling Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of engineering and industrial applications company that she co-founded with her husband in 1985. She is also the Founder and Chair of the Diabetes Hope Foundation (DHF), a non-profit established in 1999 after two of her three sons were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, despite no family history of the disease. DHF has raised over $11 million to implement unique transition programs and initiatives that have impacted the lives of over 4,000 children and youth living with diabetes and their families across Canada. DHF remains the only organization in Canada dedicated to addressing the zero community, mental health and financial support services available to youth with Type 1 diabetes (T1D), and those transitioning to adult care.
My first job was… when I was 16 years old and I was selling sunglasses at a small boutique in downtown Toronto on the weekends for extra spending money.
My proudest accomplishment…. in business was 20 years ago when I created an environment of accountability for all employees at Fluid Hose and Coupling Inc. and we became the first Canadian company in our industry to implement a Quality Management System (QMS) and earn ISO 9001 certification. In spearheading these efforts, I finally earned the respect of my male employees, predominately male customers and the North American manufacturing industry at large. The culture at the company is one where employees are invested in meeting three key criteria in the work they do everyday – customer service and satisfaction, product control and prompt delivery. Our ISO guidelines continue to evolve to meet ever-changing business demands. We are constantly cross-training our staff to ensure customer satisfaction!
My boldest move to date was…quitting a well-paid, fabulous job with great benefits, entering a male-dominated industry, partnering with my husband and launching a manufacturing company in the ’80s without knowing anything about the industry.
The most fulfilling thing about the work I do is… knowing I am making a difference to thousands of youth living with diabetes through Diabetes Hope Foundation (DHF), the foundation I founded in 1999 after 2 of my 3 sons shockingly developed diabetes, despite no family history of the disease.
The most challenging thing about my work is… as a philanthropist, educating the public and donors about the zero emotional, community and financial support services available to youth with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in Canada. Numerous organizations exist focused on diabetes research, but DHF is the only organization in this country tackling the emotional, financial, and social stigma that youth living with diabetes deal with on a daily basis.
I would tell my 21-year-old self…rejection is not personal. Keep at it, keep going, follow your passion…do not get distracted or discouraged with the negatives or lack of feedback – continue to believe in your passion. With patience and perseverance, you will eventually turn the ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ and gain respect and success. Remember, you are only as good as your last sale… always keep your brand fresh!
If I had five extra hours a day I would…split up my time by being with horses, riding my bike and hanging out with my grandchildren.
“I’ve always believed in taking my lived experiences and difficult challenges and have tried very hard to turn them into a positive experience.”
My greatest advice from a mentor was…unfortunately, I did not have a mentor. I’ve always believed in taking my lived experiences and difficult challenges and have tried very hard to turn them into a positive experience.
My biggest setback was…the time when 2 of my 3 sons developed type 1 diabetes.
I overcame it by…starting the Diabetes Hope Foundation 21 years ago. I am proud that DHF has raised over $11 million to implement unique transition programs and initiatives that have impacted the lives of over 4,000 children and youth living with diabetes and their families across Canada. We recently released a charitable children’s book, Nothing Can Stop Me! Based on a true story, the book follows the story of a boy diagnosed with diabetes just days before a championship hockey game. All proceeds from the book will support the DHF Athletic Scholarship Fund for secondary students living with diabetes.
If I were to pick one thing that has helped me succeed, it would be… TO STAY FOCUSED! Focus on what’s important, capture the good times and moments, develop positives from the negatives, and if things don’t work out, take another shot. Remember to stay positive – don’t get caught up with the many many NO’s; believe in yourself – and be sure you take time to enjoy a hobby to give you peace of mind and joyful self-fulfillment.
I surprise people when I tell them…that I am the founder and chair of Diabetes Hope Foundation, which I started 21 years ago, and that I have been Vice President of Fluid Hose and Coupling Inc for 34 years.
The future excites me because… Today I’m stronger because
I need to be, I’m smarter because of my mistakes, happier because of the sadness I’ve had to endure, and am now wiser because I learned so much. I continue to reinvent my goals as I look to the future.