BENSON Saulo is a far cry from the kid who used to day-dream his way through English class at Peel High School.
The Jardwadjai, Weregia, Gunditjmara and Wemba Wemba man just become Australia's first Indigenous consul-general appointed to the United States, posted in Houston, Texas.
Growing up in Tamworth on the other side of the train tracks, the 32-year-old said it was easy to feel overlooked.
"A message my dad told me when I was a lot younger was to never think the world is not yours, which is a really powerful statement," Mr Saulo said.
"Coming from Tamworth we didn't grow up with all the opportunities, I wasn't thinking about doing this when I was 15. I thought about going to school and hopefully getting a job to live a good life.
"To step into this very senior role and represent Australia overseas is worlds away from what I thought was possible sitting in high school."
Mr Saulo will join five other consul-generals stationed at major ports across America.
His role is to facilitate trade in the US and to change finance from something that's merely transaction to something that's built on relationships.
The US has always been a large investor in Australia, Mr Saulo said, but looking past the world of COVID-19 that direct investment will be critical.
"For me, Houston is a really critical posting because there are such wonderful synergies in tech-sharing that can and do take place," he said.
"As a representative of Australia it's about building the relationship with a major trade partner.
"I don't like referring to myself as a role model, but when you are creating opportunities and a new path you have to look to who is coming behind you as well, and there is such a drive in young people."
In 2013, Mr Saulo founded the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy, which aimed to empower young Indigenous people to lead positive change on issues they are passionate about.
He worked for Australian Unity as head of community and co-founded Mind Garden Projects in 2014 to provides literacy support for schools in Papua New Guinea, where his father is from.
Mr Saulo said that being the first Indigenous person to take up the consul-general role came with responsibility. "For me this all came from a lot of planning five years ago, thinking about what career I wanted to create and the impact I wanted to have," Mr Saulo said.
"It comes with a huge amount of pride but a heavy weight of responsibility, it's never easy being the first but I wouldn't be here if others hadn't come before me."
Mr Saulo is expected to go to Houston in December.