Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard will take to the stage at Ulumbarra to impart her lessons in leadership.
The Bendigo Business Council has announced Ms Gillard will give the keynote address at its annual leadership lunch.
A panel with a strong student presence is set to pepper Ms Gillard with questions about education and leading the nation.
The Bendigo Business Council said it was “thrilled” to be hosting Julia Gillard and hear her insights on women and leadership.
But perhaps no one was more thrilled by the Gillard news than Bendigo Senior Secondary College students Eva Marchingo and Gabriela Giggins.
The pair are co-presidents of their Student Representative Councila and leaders in their own right, but they are aspiring to lead beyond their school years.
Both said they considered Ms Gillard “inspirational” and were looking forward to the wisdom she would share at the October event.
Ms Marchingo said she shared Ms Gillard’s passion for education.
“I’d love to be minister for education one day because I think it's such an incredible platform to make change,” Ms Marchingo said.
“She handled her time in parliament with such grace, despite the bombardment of criticism from the public and from the media.”
Ms Marchingo said such criticism about her rise to power was “an example of misogyny being disguised as something else”.
She said Ms Gillard was a trailblazer and, while it would be nice to not have quotas, the majority of parliament was made up of straight white cis-gendered males, but women, people of colour and LGBTI people needed representation.
“We need more female politicians in parliament destroying the joint,” she said.
Ms Giggins said it was a valuable opportunity for the Bendigo community to listen and get guidance from a woman who once governed Australia.
“For me, she's an idol. In Bendigo we're very lucky because we have three female MPs and they are all very inspirational.”
Bendigo Business Council president Leah Sertori said Ms Gillard’s experience of negotiating with leaders on the world stage would guide local businesses.
“She has really unique insights into what it actually means to be a leader at that level,” Ms Sertori said.
She said she valued Ms Gillard’s championing transformative policy, such as the NDIS, which was crucial for local social enterprises like Radius Disability Services.
“We work incredibly closely with the schools in our region to improve education outcomes, which I know is a topic that is close to Ms Gillard's heart,” she said.
“Leadership is vital in business... to take our city to the next level, we require strong leadership, fresh thinking and collaborative approach.”
The news comes as fresh figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal there are still fewer women in positions of leadership.
Only 17 per cent of CEOs are women, however, the public service gender landscape is changing, with 31 per cent of Federal parliamentarians now women, up from 26 per cent a decade ago.
The Leadership Lunch on October 26 – called “Lessons in Leadership” – will see a Q and A panel question Ms Gillard, with many seats on the panel filled by local students.
The 2015 Leadership Lunch is sponsored by Ducere, a global provider of business education of which Julia Gillard is Chancellor.
The event is expected to sell out. Tickets at bendigobusinesscouncil.com.au.