Well she came, she spoke and she conquered last night at The Sofitel and I’m so glad she made it to Melbourne. The Honourable Julie Bishop MP was the keynote speaker at last night’s sold out final Bold Thinking Series event for 2018 and while I had assembled a stellar panel made up of MC Francis Leach, Emeritus Professors Judith Brett and John Carroll and incoming academic Dr Andrea Carson – Ms Bishop’s plane from Sydney was delayed by the dust storm there yesterday and she was the main act.
I came into the office yesterday afternoon feeling relatively calm and under control but that quickly changed when Julie’s media advisor texted me to let me know they were still up north stuck at Sydney airport. We have a risk management plan for the series but I’ve never had to enact it. Needless to say there was a flurry of activity, conversations and emails instigated by me and my team to try to determine Plan B: if she was late and Plan C: if she was a no-show and what action we would take.
We were enormously relieved when her media advisor let us know in that critical hour yesterday afternoon that they had actually made it onto the next available plane to Melbourne and our in-house travel agency also confirmed their plane had safely touched down. Crisis averted but it was a near miss and I was sweating! I keep saying you need nerves of steel working in events.
It was also action packed once I got to the venue with my team. Besides meeting and greeting Ms Bishop and the panelists and taking them to their respective green rooms to meet each other and be miked up, there were media in attendance last night including The Age and Channel 9 news as well as our own official photographer Sav Shulman who shot all the accompanying images used in this blog post. It also took longer to seat everyone in the Arthur Streeton Auditorium which holds 360 people so we ran 10 minutes late. My highlight was taking the entire entourage with Ms Bishop behind me followed by all the other speakers back of house via The Sofitel kitchen (very James Bond!) to the VIP front row of the packed Auditorium which promptly broke out into applause by the young crowd as Julie entered the room.
She gave a fascinating conversation on western liberal democracy, insights into the Liberal party, the inner machinations of Parliament and its adversarial nature and, of course, women in politics. You need to be a certain type of person to go into politics – it’s one of the toughest careers there are. Ms Bishop (‘Call me Julie’) had had two hours sleep and I think rarely gets more than 4 – 5. She’s smaller than she appears in the media too but also very stylish and glamorous in a classic way – one of my younger colleagues said ‘she’s so beautiful’. Her eyes are also much bluer than they appear on TV and like many of the people I’ve worked with over the past two and a half years – she has an X factor – charisma that some people naturally have and that other people are drawn to. Ms Bishop also has quite a regal, if not imperious, bearing so while I’m not usually nervous meeting people – I was understandably more hesitant when I met her. She was mobbed when she left the venue last night and I’m also glad we’d organised security for her to escort her back to her hotel before she flew out this morning.
I feel very relieved today – it’s given me a sense of closure to have held my last event for the year, and such an amazing one at that, and actually turn my head to Christmas and to next year. The Bold Thinking Series will be continuing so more adventures lie ahead for me. Have a wonderful weekend.