Former Committee for Gippsland chief executive Mary Aldred has thanked Gippslanders after she was last week announced as a Financial Review BOSS magazine young executive of the year.
Ms Aldred, 35, was one of six young executives named by the publication and said the announcement was a recognition of the people of Gippsland who had supported her along the way.
Ms Aldred started her career in Member for McMillan Russell Broadbent's office as an electorate officer before joining the Energy Supply Association of Australia in a communications role.
From there, Ms Aldred undertook a corporate and regulatory manager role with an energy efficiency company before she was appointed Committee for Gippsland's chief executive at 27.
She left the Committee for Gippsland eight weeks ago to take up a position with the Franchise Council of Victoria as its chief executive.
However, before entering the workforce Ms Aldred left school at 15 to work in her parents' equestrian business, completing a year of long distance education, before returning to school in year 12 to complete her VCE.
She said people living and working in regional areas should not be disenchanted by where they attended school – or how they were brought up – and encouraged people to make the most of every opportunity.
"I strongly believe your postcode doesn't determine your potential," Ms Aldred said.
"I've had some amazing experiences and I've been able to progress because both men and women throughout my life have been encouraging and have at times set me on a better path that what I would've have travelled by myself."
Ms Aldred also completed an internship with US Senator Bill Nelson for two months before taking up the role of electorate officer in Mr Broadbent's office.
Resilience was a key attribute Ms Aldred nominated during her selection process for the young executive of the year – a quality which she said was strong in Gippsland.
"We are such a resilient community and so among all of the things I learnt in my C4Gipps role, being able to see community organisations and businesses demonstrate real resilience was something I learnt a great deal from," Ms Aldred said.
"I feel incredibly honoured ... it's a wonderful recognition of all of the people in Gippsland I've worked with ... and everything that I've been able to learn through people being generous with their time and experience.
"Don't be afraid to try new experiences to push your own boundaries, to seek out people around you whose experience and opinion you value, who can encourage you, but also set you straight when you might be heading towards a mistake."