National Volunteer Week Profile – Rachel Sullivan

Position: Current Team Leader Skillaroos (since 2003)

State: Tasmania

As far as dedication and commitment goes, Rachel Sullivan continues to go above and beyond as an instrumental volunteer of WorldSkills Australia.

Rachel has been involved with WorldSkills since her own experience of international competitions when she travelled to Amsterdam in 1991 as part of the Australian team for Hairdressing.

‘The team atmosphere and team environment inspired me then, and continued to inspire me to become a team leader with WorldSkills.’

After competing overseas, Rachel returned to Hobart determined to make her mark in her skill area. While still a young practitioner in her twenties, Rachel took on the role of Team Leader for the Tasmanian team in 1996. As Team Leader, she continued to develop her leadership skills, eventually taking over as Australian Team Leader in 2003. 

As one of WorldSkills’ longest serving volunteers, Rachel has been to the last seven international competitions, mentoring young people from dozens of different skills and backgrounds. What keeps her dedicated to her role as a WorldSkills volunteer and team leader?

‘Initially it was to be with a team like when I went through the competition cycle in 1991. I also wanted to give back to the organisation: I wouldn’t be where I am today without WorldSkills. I wanted to give others the opportunities I have had to reach my own aspirations.’

As well as currently teaching Certificate II Level in Hairdressing at two public colleges for last three years, Claremont College and Bayview Secondary College, Rachel runs her own salon, Clipaway. As her salon approaches its 20th anniversary on the 2nd June, and her involvement with WorldSkills in its 26th year, how does she find time to juggle all her commitments?

‘I’m at the colleges two days a week, at the salon four days a week and I’m studying for my Education degree full time. It can sometimes be hard to juggle everything, but I see it in terms of love and priorities. WorldSkills is my love, so I make time for that to be a part of my day and my life.’

Rachel is busy preparing this year’s Skills Squad for their possible journeys to Abu Dhabi in October. She is working tirelessly to make sure each competitor is on top on their game and ready to compete against the world’s best.

As she prepares herself to go on to see her 8th international competition, what keeps her excited and coming back for more every two years?

‘The most rewarding part of my WorldSkills experience is always the closing ceremony. When the announcers yell out ‘Australia!’ I still cry every time. I get to see the transformation of young people into confident and skilled professionals who are passionate about their work. That makes me feel pretty special.’