PODCAST: How the Caterpillar Foundation Improves the World by Improving Infrastructure

By Tori Callahan
Reading Time: 2 minutes


Michele Sullivan, President, Caterpillar Foundation, Director of Corporate Social Innovation, Caterpillar

“I believe we all have a role to play, not only in our own successes, but in the successes of others, and I believe we must come together to make these changes.”

As the President of the Caterpillar Foundation and Director of Corporate Social Innovation for Caterpillar, this sense of responsibility motivates and inspires Michele Sullivan on a daily basis.

Caterpillar was founded in 1925, the Caterpillar Foundation opening years later in 1952. Over time however, these two parts of Caterpillar have been united as a strategic, influential company that gives back to society in order to improve our world.

Their combined focus is on improving what Michele calls societal and human infrastructure. Each segment of Caterpillar operates both independently and together as one, which is how Michele’s dual roles are also structured.

For example, at the 2016 Global Citizen Festival in New York during UN General Assembly Week, Caterpillar celebrated the 35th anniversary of their 3500 generator by donating one to a hospital in Haiti. The generator, or the societal infrastructure, in turn strengthens Haiti, the human infrastructure: the two become one.

Michele previously served as a Leadership Council member at the 2016 Collaborative + Classy Awards, but recently joined us again to talk about how Caterpillar finds success as a foundation and a business.

In this episode of the Classy podcast, Michele discusses:

  • Advice for team communication and efficiency
  • Societal and human infrastructure working together as one
  • Caterpillar’s evolution as a company
  • The future of corporate philanthropy
  • Having the courage to take on the newer, bigger challenges

Resources Mentioned on the Show

The #1 Podcast for Social Entrepreneurs

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