Beating Generational Poverty, Drop by Drop


Michele Sullivan, president of the Caterpillar Foundation, joins the Caterpillar Podcast. She discusses the role of listening in leadership, how her organization is helping fight extreme poverty and how water is key to making it all happen. As a bonus, hear a short history segment from Corporate Historian Lee Fosburgh about the Caterpillar Trail.

In her dream job, Michele leads the Caterpillar Foundation team, which is focused on a mission to empower 50 million people around the world to rise out of extreme poverty by 2020. Michele says water is the key to meeting this ambitious goal. Listen to learn more about the Value of Water campaign to hear how Caterpillar is partnering with other organizations to raise awareness of the value of water and impact of the global water crisis

"There's 1.3 billion people who live in extreme poverty - they live on less than $1.20 per day. Of that, 844 million are living without access to clean water."

The Caterpillar Foundation’s mission and Michele’s personal mission are truly aligned. She urges other people to find their passion and take action to make a positive difference in the lives of other people.

"Always acknowledge what got you to where you are, and what role do you play in making the world a better place."

Listen to the podcast to hear more from Michele. Show highlights are listed in the program guide below.

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Program guide:

  • 1:56 - In addition to her Caterpillar career, Michele takes advantage of a unique talent to pursue a fun "side" job doing voice-over work 
  • 3:04 - Michele talks about growing up in a traditional Caterpillar family in Peoria
  • 5:21 - Active listening and understanding is a key trait in effective leadership
  • 9:31 - THREE KEY NUMBERS: learn of the numbers that drive Michele and the Caterpillar Foundation's work to alleviate poverty and improve access to water 
  • 12:32 - Five years ago, the Caterpillar Foundation embarked on a new mission and strategy that changed the course of the organization 
  • 18:38 - The Caterpillar Foundation team recently visited Rwanda to see the impact of investments in improving access to water 
  • 22:36 - Breaking the cycle of poverty is helping families to better their daily lives and send more children to school 
  • 25:18 - Michele talks about the Caterpillar Foundation's launch of the Value of Water Campaign 
  • 27:40 - Michele urges people to find their passion and get involved to make a positive difference 
  • 29:15 - HISTORY: Corporate Historian Lee Fosburgh talks about Caterpillar's long history of philanthropy and civic outreach

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