My Career: From Bumbling Neophyte to Pioneering Diplomat

March 17, 2019 | Swanee Hunt

History can be told only in stories. Here are a few of mine.

The purpose of sharing these accounts — particularly during Women’s History Month — is to show that women, like men, can grow from bumbling neophytes to competent leaders. For me, that has meant losing my balance and losing my way. Occasionally, I’ve floated gracefully in a grand jeté, then sprinted the last mile of a marathon. But most of the time I’ve plodded along, often stumbling, then catching myself, on the journey.

In the last four decades, I’ve encountered admirers (sweet) and critics (more important). I’ve been blessed with patient, and not so patient, instructors. They’ve passed on tough lessons: branch out, speak for others, take nothing for granted, claim the obvious, listen and learn, plain old bluff. As their student, I’m continuing to unearth a simple formula for a complex world.

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