US Consul General Frankie Reed’s message to the crowd gathered at Bendigo’s Capital Theatre on Thursday was one of optimism.
Speaking at a Women in Leadership forum, she shared her experiences in work, leadership and life.
Ms Reed’s journey from Baltimore, Maryland, to her Melbourne-based position has taken her around the world.
Before her Australian position, she was Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu.
Ms Reed was also Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, responsible for relations with Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Island posts.
Before then, she was the Consul General and Deputy U.S. Observer to the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
Ms Reed has served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Conakry, Guinea, and in Apia, Samoa.
She has practiced law, worked in print journalism, and volunteered for two years with the Peace Corps.
Her advice for those in the crowd, especially young women, was to believe in themselves.
“Don’t select yourself out,” she said.
“I think I didn’t apply for more things than I applied for.”
There was a time when she was held back by the thought, “they aren’t going to take me.”
“If you never see anyone who looks like you in certain positions, it has a lot to do with the way you look at yourself,” she said.
But Ms Reed said it was the times she took a chance and succeeded that gave her the confidence to apply for further opportunities.
“As long as you have the energy and the resilience, just keep applying, because you’ll get there,” she said.
She reminded attendees to be as grateful for their perceived failures as they were for their achievements.
“You do have to look back on how not getting something leads you to a better place,” she said.
Much of her journey has been shaped by the people she has met along the way. At times, help has come from unexpected sources.
“People remember you, for better or worse,” Ms Reed said.
It was helping people that motivated the forum, organised by La Trobe University.
Ticket sales raised about $8000 for the university’s Regional Women in Leadership Bursaries.
Several bursary recipients were in the crowd, among them Nerida Hyett, who opened the event in conversation with Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor Amalia Di Iorio.