Renowned environmental scientist and business savvy drone developer Dr Catherine Ball is making her mark on the world by using drone technology to improve the planet and help people in need.
Recently, she spoke with Ray Weekes, Chair of the CEO institute, about her work as an independent drone advisor and her desire for world change.
Does Catherine see herself as a game changer? “I’d like to see myself as a game creator, rather than a game changer,” she reflects. “The things that I’m working on and working with are just so unique they just didn’t have anything related to them before now.”
Catherine describes herself as a “connector” rather than an “innovator”, because instead of “tinkering” with technology she is focused on being a “curator” of ideas.
With the word “entrepreneur” thrown around quite loosely, Catherine distinguishes true entrepreneurs as “the people who pick the ideas before people even realise what the idea is” and “somebody who can almost be prescient.”
Striving for success
What qualities are important when you’re striving for success?
“Persistance and fearlessness,” shares Catherine, suggesting that when you have an idea “you run with it, like a cheetah, you don’t stop until you’ve got that prey down on the ground.”
What makes entrepreneurs stand out is their ability to see a task through, and a willingness to “hold on” when others would have let go.
“Entrepreneurs are braver, for a little bit longer,” she reflects.
Driving positive change
Determined to make the world a better place, Catherine has worked on a number of global projects and initiatives using robotics and technology. She’s advocated that drones have diverse applications, from emergency response and improving access to remote communities, to recording cultural heritage and carrying out environmental assessments.
As a young adult, she was moved to do something and planned to pursue a career in medicine after seeing the 1984 famine in Ethiopia reported in the news. However, after a gap year in Zambia, she realized that dirty water and famine are bigger issues that medicine cannot fix.
“I realized that having environmental health – as in a healthy planet – is the only answer to pretty much all of our problems. In terms of conservation, wealth, education and health, it all comes down to people being able to access clean water and clean food,” Catherine shares.
“People that do the hard yards, and who are willing to nurture ideas and think creatively about how technology can be used, are essential for improving our quality of life and protecting our planet.”
If you would like to view the full conversation with Catherine, watch the webcast online.
Game Changers is an initiative of the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame, presented by State Library of Queensland, the Queensland Library Foundation and QUT Business School.