It says a lot about Trudy Witbreuk that she’s been to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, but not Noosa, the Queensland holiday town.

Trudy, the 273rd person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, is a career diplomat who’s run embassies and negotiated trade deals.

After graduating as a lawyer and working in Canberra for two years, Trudy was posted to Cairo. She couldn’t believe her luck – someone was paying her to learn Arabic and travel around Egypt.

Over the course of her career, Trudy also had postings in Gaza, Sudan, Washington DC, Paris and Brussels, mostly working for the Australian government but sometimes being seconded to the United Nations or the OECD.

Trudy considers herself blessed that she’s been able to do interesting work across the fields of economics and politics at both a domestic and international level.

And I felt blessed that I got to hear about the places Trudy’s lived, the deals she’s negotiated and the people she’s met. It was also fascinating to hear an insider’s perspective of foreign relations. Diplomacy turns out to be a lot less glamorous than one might expect – the hours are long and the cocktail parties are boring.

Trudy is now transitioning into the next stage of her life. She’s moved back to her native Tasmania, has just left the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, and is in the process of looking for her next role. 

Even better, she’s about to go on holiday to Noosa.