U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke for the first time to his staff at the State Department in Washington today.

“Here's the big question before the country and the world and the state department after the last eight years,” Kerry said. “Can a man actually run the State Department? I don’t know.”

Kerry praised his predecessor, Hillary Clinton.

“I know from my conversations with Hillary how passionate she was about this undertaking and how much confidence and gratitude she had for the work that every single one of you do, and I just want to join with all of you today in saying to her, 'Job well done, Hillary Clinton,” he said. “The nation is grateful, the world is grateful. Thank you, Hillary Clinton, and thank her team, thank you.”

Kerry also promised to protect diplomatic staff around the world.

“And I guarantee you that beginning this morning, when I report for duty upstairs, everything I do will be focused on the security and safety for our people. We have tough decisions to make but I promise you I will do everything it takes to live up to the high standards that Secretary Clinton has put in place.”

Kerry said he was excited by the prospect of making peace in the world, saying “Here, we can do the best things you can do in government.”

“What other job can you have where you get up every day and advance the cause of nation?” Kerry asked. “And also keep faith with the ideals of your country on which it is founded, and most critically, meet our obligations to our fellow travelers on this planet? That's as good as it gets, and I'm proud to be a part of it with you. So now, let's get to work. Thank you very, very much.”