5 minutes with Nicole Sullivan

26 Nov 2020

We recently farewelled Nicole Sullivan, Senior Manager for Green Star Solutions, who is moving to thinkstep-anz as their Head of Strategy and Impact, Australia. Nicole led the the Green Star Solutions team for four years but she'll be missed by the whole GBCA family, so before she left we spent five minutes with her to hear about her Green Star highlights and hopes for the future.

Nicole you started with Green Building Council in 2016. What were you doing previously and why did you want to work with GBCA?

I had been working in sustainability with BlueScope for 5 years before that and I wanted to broaden my horizons from just supply chain into green building. I was already connected with the GBCA and a respected the organisation highly and thought it would be an awesome place to work (I wasn’t wrong!) I read the job posting in the Fifth Estate and it looked like it described me, so I gave it a shot!

Looking back, what was your highlight during your time with us?

Can I only have one highlight?  The incredible Green Star Solutions team are like my family. They are amazing people who work really hard and care deeply about helping our Green Star community to deliver incredible, sustainable Green Star projects. They have made a real difference to the level of service we provide, shown by the leap in satisfaction results from our survey this year. I am so proud of them.

I have to say, helping to deliver Green Star Buildings, and in particular the Responsible Products Framework, brings me joy.  With my supply chain background this was my opportunity to create a framework to provide commercial incentives for the development of more sustainable products.  More and more will happen with this over the next 12 months, so I will be watching GBCA closely – the ultimate deliverable is an online Product Register, which will be a one-stop shop for sustainable products, where it shows the sustainability attributes of each product and you know that you can make responsible choices based on the information there, all in one place.  Manufacturers will be able to show how great their products are, in a place where they know people will be seeking the best products. AND it is going to make submissions easier for Green Star as well. Win-win-win!

You created, mentored and led the Green Star Solutions team who will sorely miss you! What will you miss about them?

The team is a group of very passionate people who want to make a difference in this world, and they want to help others to do the same – they are like me!  They are warm-hearted and generous and they work so hard behind the scenes. Green Star is a success because of them, and I am so proud to say that I led this amazing group of professionals. Even in COVID-19 times they have been a united group who really care for each other and look out for one another.  How many people do you know who put their hand up and say, “my load is a bit lighter today, can I give anyone a hand?” Every single person in the team does that. The culture in the team is incredible and I will miss them dearly.

Can you tell us about what you’ll be doing in your new role at thinkstep-anz?

I’m so excited – my role will be to support thinkstep-anz clients in Australia and to expand what thinkstep-anz can offer in the Australian market, particularly regarding manufacturing and Green Star.  As Head of Strategy and Impact Australia, I will be supporting all types of companies to continue to evolve their sustainability strategy, improve their impacts and importantly to be able to communicate to the market in an impactful manner. I will be available to support manufacturers in their sustainability journey, wherever they might be. I can help those who need a boost with their understanding of Green Star at a strategic and practical level, so that Green Star can be implemented more easily by more projects, and so that manufacturers can provide responsibly sourced products to Green Star projects. I’ll be here in Australia on the ground for thinkstep-anz, ready to chat and brainstorm about new ways to improve sustainability everywhere. In essence, my role is to help companies to ‘succeed sustainably’ – and I love that that’s thinkstep-anz’s tagline, it just describes my motivation perfectly.

When it comes to the sustainable transformation of the built environment, what gets you excited?

Everything! I am excited by the boundless opportunity that we have to make a difference as we walk together towards a better future. I love to be an enabler of change by working alongside companies, walking in their shoes and understanding their unique situation. Australian industry is known for its collaboration and I want to be part of that and take it up a notch in my areas of expertise. We have so many opportunities to make a difference, whether it is with embodied carbon, supply chain impacts, social impacts, transparency and reporting, strategic improvement planning, circular economy, strategies for achieving sustainability certifications like Green Star… there is so much to do! 

I once asked a beloved colleague how she chose what to work on in sustainability, was it a case of low hanging fruit, and she said to me, “It isn’t about picking the low hanging fruit. There is so much fruit that it is falling off and rotting on the ground and we are working to pick it up and make the best of it as fast as we can!” I feel that is still where we are with sustainability today. There is so much good that we can do. In fact, we are missing some of it now and we could be doing better, so we all need to collectively gather as much as we can and do the best we can. And I know that we will achieve the best when we work together. Collaboration is what will turn up the dial the fastest. So, who will join me? What can we do together?  And I know that the GBCA will be part of that journey forward with us.

We wish Nicole the very best in her new role with thinkstep-anz and look forward to working with her in the future. To get in touch with Nicole, contact thinkstep-anz.