A huge congratulations to our Founder and Managing Director, Sarina Russo, on receiving the esteemed honour of an Honorary Doctor of Commerce from James Cook University (JCU). This accolade serves as a tribute to her outstanding contributions to education, business, employment, and empowerment in Queensland, nationally, and on the international stage.
In the words of Prof. Simon Biggs, Vice Chancellor of JCU, “Ms Sarina Russo’s remarkable journey is a testament of her unwavering dedication and entrepreneurial spirit.”
Dr Russo’s story is one of inspiration, resilience, and tenacity. From her humble beginnings arriving in Australia from Sicily as a young child, Dr Russo embarked on a path that has significantly impacted the employment and education landscape. In 1979, with determination and minimal resources, she founded one of Brisbane's first private training enterprises, the Sarina Russo Group (SRG). Over the years, SRG has grown into a multi-million-dollar entity, providing high-quality employment and training services nationwide. Her commitment to diversity, inclusion, and accessibility has empowered countless individuals to realise their career aspirations. Dr Russo’s passion for empowering others and providing opportunities for growth and development have paved the way for thousands of individuals to achieve their dreams and contribute meaningfully to society.
Dr Russo’s commitment to education reached its pinnacle with the establishment of James Cook University Brisbane in 2005, enriching the intellectual landscape and providing opportunities for thousands of domestic and international students to pursue higher education.
Beyond her business and educational endeavours, Dr Russo’s engagement at international forums and her philanthropic efforts through the Sarina Russo Foundation underscore her global citizenship and commitment to driving positive change. Her involvement in government reviews, industry boards, and advocacy for community well-being showcases her expertise and dedication to policy development. In recognition of her sustained and outstanding entrepreneurial achievements, Dr Russo was named Ernst Young's 2018 Champion of Entrepreneurship, Northern Region and featured in the Australian Financial Review's Top 50 Women Rich List in 2022.
Reflecting on her transformative journey, on her speech during the 2023 James Cook University Brisbane Graduation Ceremony, Dr. Russo emphasised the power of determination and self-belief, stating, "You must never give up; you too can become the prime minister or the president of your country." Dr Russo’s journey, marked by passion, persistence, and self-belief, has not only transformed her life but uplifted countless others.
In a touching tribute, Minister Grace Grace, the Minister for Education, Minster or Industrial Relations, and Minster of Racing, highlighted Dr. Russo's significant contributions, sharing, "Sarina Russo’s extraordinary dedication has transformed education, training, and employment landscapes, empowering over 100,000 individuals to achieve success."
Dr. Russo's innovative approach and tireless dedication to education and empowerment embody the essence of a deserving recipient of the Honorary Doctor of Commerce, recognising her remarkable achievements and the positive impact she has had on countless lives.