Natalie is currently a consultant at PwC and has founded her own conservation organisation, My Green World. In all of the actions she takes, she aims to promote sustainability and an environmentally conscious agenda. Today, she shares the highlights of her projects, and how we can all help to make a change in the world.
At PwC, you’ve had the chance to work on really powerful projects like “The Impact Hour” and establishing Bushfire Recovery Victoria. What has been your favourite project thus far and why?
I have been privileged to work on projects that are very close to my heart. It is hard to choose just one, but I thoroughly enjoyed working with the ever-inspiring Lord Mayor Sally Capp to develop the 'Bringing Melbourne Back Better' Covid Recovery Strategy for the City of Melbourne. This piece of work gave me the opportunity to not only work alongside women who are role models to me but to be at the centre of the reshaping of Melbourne into an even more inclusive and vibrant city.
You founded your own conservation organisation My Green World. What was the inspiration behind it? What sort of impact has the organisation been able to make so far?
Almost 10 years ago, I spent time abroad connecting with nature around the world. One of my first stops was Borneo, where I lived in the jungle working at an orangutan rehabilitation centre. One evening, I was sitting in my guesthouse which bordered the jungle, when I looked out my window and saw an orangutan wearing my underwear around his neck. His name was Miko, and he was an orphaned orangutan that had been semi-successfully rehabilitated to the wild. I stepped out onto the balcony to retrieve my underwear and ended up in a tug-of-war contest with Miko over my underwear. Essentially this is my origin story. I returned to Australia wanting to find a way to engage young people in global wildlife and environmental issues in fun, unique and interesting ways.
On a more simplistic level, I created My Green World because I believe that if you have the ability to offer a little good to the world, why wouldn't you?
The impact has been far greater than I imagined. My Green World started as a passion project while I was studying for my Master's degree at the University of Melbourne. Within three years, My Green World was a vibrant social enterprise with a mobile game app supporting real-world conservation efforts, and an online classroom boasting over 40 wildlife and environmental topics. Our programs have been used by more than 100,000 children around the world.
You’ve authored publications for Australian Geographic, the Nikkei Asian Review, the Wildlife Photographic Magazine and Care2. What issues did you most enjoy writing about?
I am hugely passionate about so many things and it is difficult to choose just one topic to write about. I would say that I generally gravitate towards covering environmental issues, however, I am very much interested in the intersection of environmental and social (particularly gender) inequality.
You’ve had an expansive international career and even represented Australia at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. What were the highlights of this experience?
I have been privileged to enjoy an incredibly diverse and expansive career, one that allows me to meet such a diversity of people. I received an invitation from President Vladimir Putin to speak at the International Economic Forum - and I can tell you, this is not the sort of letter I expected to receive! For me, the highlight of the trip was to be given the opportunity to sit on a global stage next to world leaders and advocate strongly for inclusive environmental policy. I felt that I was heard and that my words mattered; that is an incredibly empowering experience. More than that, I felt as if I had perhaps played a small role in encouraging influential policy-makers to think differently (and perhaps more expansively) about the environmental issues we face.
How can young people, like many of our readers, get involved in the conservation movement?
They are already doing it! Young people are driving the conservation movement. Right now, there are countless conservation organisations to join, and just as many opportunities to design your own unique career in the conservation space. Reach out to local government representatives, offer to volunteer with conservation organisations, plant trees, challenge companies on their environmental commitment, develop or invent new environmental services, march, talk, write, read. Be constantly curious.
What would be your main advice to young women looking to follow in your footsteps?
If I had one piece of advice for young women, it would be: your voice matters, and you matter. Back yourself, even if nobody else will. Speak up, ask questions, find a mentor, be kind and inclusive, and challenge ideas. Your voice and curiosity will inspire those around you.
If you have any questions for Natalie Kyriacou, please:
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2. email us at exec@WCPunimelb.com