Image of Aivee Robinson, co-founder of Catalyser.

From an arts degree to making business a force for good

13 July 2022
How one curious mind carved out a career in social impact
Proud arts grad Aivee Robinson is making corporate responsibility and social giving sustainable – with thanks to a foundational education in the arts.

Corporate responsibility and social impact are two terms that are often considered admirable career goals that are hard to pin down.

That’s where Aivee Robinson comes in.

The arts and education graduate has taken a critical lens to the complex and unwieldy ways that corporations and businesses contribute to charitable causes and decided to make it better, easier, and ultimately, sustainable.

Aivee is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Catalyser, a digital platform that enables companies around the world to meet their corporate responsibility in engaging ways.

“After over ten years working for the United Nations and a number of charities around the world, I saw just how many life-changing programs are reliant on corporate sponsorship and are constantly fighting for the security of long-term resourcing,” she explains. “Catalyser came about as our solution to that global problem.”

It became apparent there was an opportunity to leverage technology to change the way businesses engaged with charities by making corporate social responsibility scalable and sustainable.
Aivee Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Catalyser
Image of Aivee Robinson, co-founder of Catalyser

Exploring education

Driven by finding ways to give back to the world, Aivee decided exploring the diversity of opportunities in the humanities would help her discover the path to build her career on.

“I chose the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, for my Masters Degree because I knew I wanted to be in the education space but wasn’t sure about which exact path I wanted to take,” she says. “I hoped the course would give me exposure to broad options and it absolutely did that.”

“I wasn’t someone that had a pre-defined career path planned out when I began my studies,” Aivee continues. “I just loved the opportunity to immerse myself in courses I was curious about and courses which taught me about the world.”

True to form, it was the diversity of experiences offered by her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in humanities that made it easier to narrow down where her heart truly lay.

What I was exposed to at university, and the work I did with various charities throughout that period, helped shape my ambition to create a career around social impact and helping to be part of the solution to reduce inequality.
Aivee Robinson

Making each moment matter

A graduate of the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, Aivee’s career has led her through many roles in the social justice and education space. From education policy for UNESCO in China to heading up advocacy at UNICEF Australia to being Australian ambassador for UN (United Nations) Women, Aivee’s path has always been rooted in giving back to the community in some way to make a meaningful difference.

“I first heard about the role of the United Nations in world affairs when I was 10 on a kids news program at school,” she recalls. “Ever since then, that was my mission.”

Meeting former Secretary-General Kofi Annan while working for the UN in Beijing was a career highlight.
Aivee Robinson
Aivee Robinson, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Catalyser

Now co-leading the social tech company, Catalyser, Aivee’s core mission is realised in multitudes. The company provides innovative technology to enable organisations of all sizes to engage staff with effective corporate social responsibility programs that have impact for the community.

“A day in the life as a Co-Founder and CEO of Catalyser is an unpredictable range of business operations,” she says. “From managing a team, investor relations, celebrating incremental daily wins and figuring out how to solve problems I’ve never faced before. Owning a business that channels tens of millions to charities and the privilege of employing a team is something I’ll never take for granted.”

My studies opened doors for me which have led me to mentors and people that have guided my path and have given me a toolbox of critical thinking and analytical skills which I apply to every situation.
Aivee Robinson
Image of Aivee Robinson, co-founder of Catalyser

It’s often said education is where your worldview is challenged, changed, and transformed and this is something Aivee values the most after what feels like a lifetime of experiences.

“The biggest lesson I learned at university was how empowering it was to think critically about the world around me and to form my own original thoughts,” she says. “What is so special about Arts degrees is that independent and original thought is valued highly. I loved the process of being challenged and learning to question, think and articulate my own views.”

When asked what advice she’d share to those thinking about an arts degree when it feels like everything is telling you otherwise, Aivee is earnest with her words.

An arts degree gives you the space and inspiration to learn to think critically so you can carve out your unique path.
Aivee Robinson, Catalyser CEO and co-founder

“Building an impactful career isn’t going to come from the degree you choose or the qualifications you accumulate,” she says. “It’s going to come from the way you use what you’ve learned to think, question, create and grow.”

Discover the Sydney School of Education and Social Work and decide what you will achieve.

Related articles