2017 Power Trip Reflection: “Be an umbrella, and live a better life”
By Eleanor McCormack, 2017 Power Trip winner from Ulverstone, Tasmania
“Be an umbrella: open up. Only then can you be of use to other people,” is a quote from the 2017 Country to Canberra ‘Power Trip’ that has really stuck with me. As a person who can be quiet in an unfamiliar situation, this quote empowered me. All through the trip, especially networking events such as the powerful women’s breakfast or lunch with politicians, this inspired me to overcome my tendency to introversion and really connect with people.
Looking back, I couldn’t be more pleased that I had decided to open up. I made great friends in the other winners, spoke on the radio and met some amazing high ranking women. Country to Canberra gave me the wonderful opportunity to leave my comfort zone of the North West Coast of Tasmania and grab life by the lapels. For that, I will be eternally grateful.
We had two full days of events, with one day focused on leadership and the other focused on empowerment. The leadership day was packed with seminars and workshops, during which I took many notes. The workshops were fabulous as they gave us the resources to improve our skill set and knowledge. Our communities will also benefit from the workshops, as we have taken those skills back to our home towns. It was in the Tedx session on public speaking that the quote “Be an umbrella: open up. Only then can you be of use to other people,” was said. I think that quote really set the tone for the next day for all of the winners.
The power day started early – we left for the breakfast at 6:30 am. We then had breakfast with some of the highest ranking women in Canberra and even all of Australia. It was an absolutely incredible experience to talk to these women and learn about how they got into the positions in which they work. We discussed the barriers that women face and it was so inspiring to hear about how they overcame them. There was definitely an overwhelming feeling of ‘if they can do it, so can I’. That feeling continued into our meeting in Parliament House with politicians. One meeting of note was with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. I found her to be personally inspiring – at only 26 she was a partner in a law firm, and she is now one of the most influential women in Australia. She had every girl in the room hanging onto her every word, and was utterly composed and well spoken. All politics aside, she sets a fantastic example
for all ambitious young women and I still look to the meeting with her for inspiration on a day-to-day basis. Our meeting with Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull was equally exciting. That evening we had speed networking with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. I loved the speed networking, as when you have five minutes to get to know someone you don’t get the opportunity to be shy. This event marked a huge amount of personal growth for me.
I really admire the purpose of Country to Canberra and all of the wonderful volunteers were another great aspect of the program. The volunteers were so enthusiastic and so, so generous with their time. The volunteers and CEO Hannah Wandel are another source of inspiration for those of lucky enough to go on the ‘power trip’. After Country to Canberra, I’m really trying to push myself to take every opportunity I can – so far I am succeeding and living a better life as a result. I’ll never forget the four most wonderful days of my life and all the wonderful opportunities I was given. Most of all, I now try to be an umbrella – an open one of course.