Göran Hägerdal is the newly appointed Executive Director, Strategy and Education at the World Scout Bureau Central Office in Geneva. In his new role, Göran has overall responsibility for the Strategy for Scouting, Educational Methods (Youth Programme and Adults in Scouting), Global Project Management and World Scout Events in the Central Office, and supports and coordinates these areas of work in the Regional Offices. He is responsible for implementing the Triennial Plan in terms of Strategy and Education.
Göran is from Sweden and prior to taking up this role he has been the Deputy Secretary General of the Swedish Guide and Scout Council and the Executive Director of the 22nd World Scout Jamboree (2011) in Sweden. In the past Göran has held several volunteer and professional positions at the Swedish national level, the European level and World level in Scouting. He has studied political science at Lund University in Sweden. Göran speaks Swedish and English fluently.
How do you feel in this new role?
Proud and happy! Proud that I have been asked to do this very important work. Happy, because I am passionate about all the areas that the role involves.
What do you feel about the difference between working as a professional and the role of a volunteer in Scouting?
Although I have been part of the Scout Movement since I was 8 years old, I understood the voluntary part only after I was above 11. I still have contact via Facebook with the woman who introduced me to Scouting. She was one of the first to congratulate me on this new assignment; she is now 90 years of age and is one of my oldest friends on Facebook. Looking at her enthusiasm at this age, one can easily understand what kind of a gratitude one feels for having volunteered with Scouting. I have worked as a volunteer at the grassroots level of Scouting to feel this energy and in recent years have been privileged to be part of this Movement in several important Scout events. The World Scout Moot (Sweden, 1996) and the World Scout Jamborees (Thailand, 2003 & Sweden, 2011) have been very strong experiences of working both with professionals and volunteers within Scouting at the highest level.
Are you up for all the challenges?
In past years, relationships between the World Scout Bureau and Swedish Scouting have not always been easy. I believe that I have nevertheless been able to bring a balance and maintain good relations and still work in a professional way. All through, I have been happy to work with the World Scout Bureau and have come to know the various staff members very well over the years and in my different roles. Even when relationships were somewhat tense, we were able to work together and get the job done.
I am privileged to be here with this new role in World Scouting at a time when there are a lot of unanswered questions on the role and delivery about World Scouting because now I can be part of the group which provides some of the answers. I come with an open mind and, with my experience as a Scout over 40 years and 25 years as a volunteer/professional, I am ready for all the challenges. I know how it is to be on the other end on the receiving side as a customer of World Scouting. But from my experiences as a professional in Swedish Scouting I know how it feels to be a professional expected to deliver. “A Scout meets a challenge with a smile!”
In this new role, what do you see as a key opportunity to influence World Scouting?
I am passionate about the fact that we have a fantastic product and therefore the more children and youth we can serve, the better. If I can in any way be part of making more people able to join Scouting and have a great Scout programme, I will be happy.
A common topic that has been debated in recent times has been “how to make Scouting relevant to children and youth today”. What is your take on this debate?
I think Scouting is relevant to children and youth today, more so than ever before. Working together in small groups, young people leading young people, learning by doing… all these are top-notch techniques used in modern education for the development of children and young people. Sometimes we have to probably think about the packaging, but there is nothing that we need to change with the core product that is Scouting. Having said that, I strongly believe that a good product always needs to be developed further. It does not mean there is something that is lacking in the product. It is that, if we stand still, things will slowly grind to a halt. Any good idea needs constant development and nourishment.
Does that mean that nothing needs to be changed in Scouting today?
We should be true to our core values, but always evaluate our approach to doing things. The world is in a changing dynamic, has always been, and will continue to be, more so now with globalisation, the Internet and other modern means of communications. We are at an interesting point with some positive challenges ahead of us. It does not necessarily mean that we have to do Scouting purely on the computer. I love the forests, but I also love the computer. This age has opened up a whole new box of opportunities to explore ways of effectively reaching our clients, children and young people. And then Scouting will do the rest by taking them out in open nature.
Although there is no argument on Scouting’s relevance at the grassroots, do you think the Movement also has a strong global presence and has good reasons to remain a global force?
When the world talks about globalisation today, we belong to a Movement that has been global form over 100 years. From day one this has been a global Movement, and we have a huge advantage in this sense. We have found very effective ways to communicate our solidarity in World Scouting through the Mission and Vision of Scouting. Each and everyone connected with the Scout Movement in any little or big role all over the world should be proud of being part of Scouting, or being associated with Scouting. I have seen at the Jamborees, Moots, and on my other Scout travels that there is tremendous energy and there is very good Scouting out there all over the world. We should be proud and happy with it and see that it reaches more and more young people. Our task is to help and develop channels to share this around and make use of all the existing global platforms we have in World Scouting very effectively, including the large Scout events and gatherings. This will ensure that we are having solidarity and will show how big a social force we are, contributing to the WOSM vision of ‘creating a better world’.