In West Philadelphia, I was born and raised.

Just kidding...

I am originally from Western Australia. Please don't hold that against me.

I attended Aranmore Catholic Primary School in Leederville and the International School of Western Australia (ISWA) in City Beach.

 

I was a super involved young person at school. At age 11, I won the Australian Catholic Young Journalist of the Year Award. In primary school, I was part of the Liturgy Committee and the Sports Committee.

In high school, I served as my grade representative on the student council for two years, as Vice-President of Student Council for a year and as President of Student Council in my senior year. I was also a member of the National Honor Society for three years in which I served as Vice-President during my senior year.

At ISWA, I completed my Advanced Placement and my International Baccalaureate because I quite clearly didn't have enough on my plate between violin, piano, guitar, ukulele, singing, swimming, athletics, surf life saving, horse-riding, netball, tennis, cricket dancing... and every other activity I ever did.

 

In my spare time (yes, I somehow managed to find spare time), I worked with my parents in their business. My incredible and amazing parents were the founders of New Norcia Bakeries. My favourite memories growing up were helping my parents in the shop, in the accounts office, in one of their production facilities, on the road, at market places, at trade shows... and of course on interstate and overseas trips!

I started presenting cooking classes with Dad at a young age and presented my first solo cooking class a few months after my 12th birthday at Tasting Australia.

Caterina Sullivan as a child
Caterina Sullivan in high school

As much as I love my parents, my brother, his partner and my four beautiful nephews, my uncles and aunts, my cousins... and my whole entire wonderful family (we're Italian / Croatian - there's hundreds of us), I made the decision to move to Canberra when I was 16. I was ready for a change of scene.

I fell in love with Canberra the minute I moved here. This place is a perfect combination of big city and small town. I love the open spaces, the people and the buzz of politics - I am SUCH a political nerd!

When I first arrived in Canberra, I scored a job working for the federal government. It's a bit crazy to think I moved from private enterprise to federal government, and it was a real culture shock - but an awesome learning experience. I had THE BEST job federal government has to offer: I got to teach the most adorable children (excluding my nephews, of course) how to swim and potentially save themselves and someone else if they ever got into trouble. I coordinated the swim program at the Australian Institute of Sport for three years where I managed a team of between 60 and 80 staff. I am so proud of the positive changes I made to the program and was incredibly humbled by being recognised through receiving the Australian Public Service Achievement Medal. While I was there, we developed our program into the best program in the country... LITERALLY. We won an award for Swim School of the Year.

As much as I adored my job at the Swim School, in June 2015, I knew it was time to move on. I resigned from my position and took up an opportunity in New York City to work alongside the United Nations in  the launch of their 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

This is where it all really kicked off for me.

I experienced the most incredible few months of my life. I got to work with heads of state, celebrities, leading changemakers, business executives... all doing the one thing I had dreamed of doing since I was five years of age... making a difference to people's lives. I fell in love with Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn where I lived (it's a lot different to Canberra). I fell in love with Soca music, reaffirmed my love for street food, especially fried chicken, and partied as hard as I worked. It was an unreal few months.

I don't believe all good things must come to an end... but in this case, it did. My time in New York was up, and I returned to Canberra. It was then I launched the Global Goals Australia Campaign in my role as Chief Executive Officer and founder of Global Goals Australia Limited. The Global Goals Australia Campaign is focused on making the Global Goals famous in Australia by talking to and connecting with everyday citizens and lobbying the government to make Australia a leading country in the international sustainable development sphere.

In 2016, I managed to get the three major political parties at a federal level to commit to the domestic and international achievement of the Global Goals. After the 2016 federal election, within 12 months, I had met with over half of the elected representatives in both the upper and lower houses to talk about the Global Goals and why they are important for all Australians.

During this time, I also connected with both state and local politicians and government departments to discuss the Global Goals.

I also met some incredibly passionate small business owners who were overwhelmed by the concept of sustainability in their business - what is it, what does it mean for them, what can they do.

Caterina Sullivan supporting Goal 4 of the Global Goals - Quality Education
Caterina Sullivan in Wayne Cooper

In March 2017, I founded Strategic Sustainability Consultants, a consultancy specialising in developing sustainability practices, plans and procedures for SMEs, local councils, government departments and other organisations across Australia.

In my capacity as CEO of both Global Goals Australia and Strategic Sustainability Consultants, I was offered some amazing speaking opportunities where I got to engage with United Nations representatives, politicians, business owners and young people around the country and the rest of the world.

It was in my interactions with other young people that I saw a real need for a new type of leadership training to inspire those who so desperately want to see a change in the world to take action. I then founded GNX Leaders, an organisation focused on working with and developing the next generation of leaders.

I love what I do, and it's the joy I feel from giving back that motivates me. However, it has been humbling to be recognised by awards. I was named a finalist in the Young Australian of the Year Awards in 2017, a runner-up in the Young Canberra Citizen of the Year Awards in 2017, a nominee in the NSW / ACT Young Achiever Awards in 2017, a nominee in the Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year Awards in 2017 and as a Young Social Pioneer in 2017.

Since then, I have been appointed as a Global People's Fellow for the Global People's Summit and the Canberra Ambassador for the League of Extraordinary Women for 2018.

In 2018, I started struggling with my health and began to face some significant setbacks.

After a long journey of not quite knowing what was going on, I was finally diagnosed in 2019 with a brain tumour.

It was a horrible few months. I battled for my life.

I suffered three strokes and had to relearn to walk three times.

I was exhausted; I was emotionally drained; I didn't even know what I wanted for my life anymore.

I am so grateful my parents were there for me every step of the way.

I eventually underwent brain surgery and have now been given the all-clear.

None of this has slowed me down.

During this time, I launched a political podcast, started up a fashion line and established an online yarn business and have been busy learning how to spin my own yarn!

In the middle of it all, I met my forever person - John. We are now planning our wedding. We figured if we could get through my brain surgery, my recovery and a global health pandemic together, we're going to be prepared for pretty much anything!

It was a struggle to build my client list back up. A few years dealing with my health and being hit with lockdowns and travel restrictions hasn't made running a business easy, but I've made it work and am proud of how I have rebuilt. I'm so grateful to all my clients for their support over this time. A special thank you to the Missionaries of God's Love Priests and Brothers who are my favourite clients. I love being around all the positivity and love when I visit the office.

Most recently, I have been appointed the Regional Coordinator of MGI Australasia which is incredible exciting. I have an opportunity again to work across Australia and New Zealand as well as learn from my other regional counterparts all over the world. I am also incredibly grateful to be eastablishing a close relationship with the team at MGI World. The whole experience has been unreal (despite the first few months of my new job being worked in the middle of a lockdown).

Caterina Sullivan - Stroke Survivor

So here I am now after a very packed couple of decades of life!

I do public speaking. I do YouTube videos. I write articles. I run events.

I do as much as I can to make a positive difference in the world.

Because after all...

 

 

 

 

 

 

        it is in giving that we receive.