WHO IS SIGRID GRUENER?
Sigrid Gruener is a program manager at the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation who focuses on peace building, security and development. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked as a practitioner, trainer and researcher in the field of development, peace building and conflict transformation for International Solutions Group, Relief International, and Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution. Sigrid earned a master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
You can connect with Sigrid here:
IN TOR 007 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- The Dag Hammarskjold, a relatively small foundation with large name recognition in Sweden and abroad; source of pride for the Swedish people.
- The tradeoffs that come with being small, and the kinds of problems and discussions that don’t happen at larger places.
- The difficulties Sigrid has to face in achieving a common understanding on peacebuilding, from the very meaning of the concept, to the appropriate sets of measurement problem, impact and performance.
- The luxuries of working under government for 3-year plans and a fair amount of independence.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- Dag Hammarskjold Foundation
- United Nations
- Social and economic transition
- Economic and political development
- Standardization versus organic management
- Stockholm, Sweden
- East Timor
- New York
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
Bounce, Sigrid Bounce
Security and development in transition.
She manages everything: writing, conferences and other events, field activities, working with consultants. It’s common for small development NGOs for people to have many hats.
“Exciting and flexible, you get things done faster. Also exhausting.”
“Luxurious position.” Fully funded by the Swedish Government. No fundraising activities.
Sigrid’s biggest anxiety is complying with everything, from details to big picture. Constantly overloaded.
Graduate studies in international studies and economic (and political) development. She tried to find her niche in the meantime.
Worked in finance right after school for three years.
Peace building ever since.
Questions of sensibilities and harmony. Organizations were only making more systematic work in peace building.
Teaching assistant at the end of her studies, where she finally saw her way in.
“It would have happened at some time.” She’d always been drawn to the issues.
’61 Dag’s legacy. A collection of money from citizens, eventually matched by the government.
Initially not a foundation or grant giving. Not an endowment either.
Lot of citizen recognition. Budget is insignificant but recognition is wide inside and out of Sweden.
“Politics is within the organization’s mission.” Dag worked for the government but was not partisan.
Stream of operations, alignment, metrics
Independence, but the Minister suggest areas, sometimes with extra funding.
Measurement is a continuous dilemma: does the size merit a performance evaluation system?
Some politicians and people have criticized DH’s ‘informal’ approach to planning, would like more standardized projects.
“Ongoing learning process.”
Peace building is hard to measure, as is contribution to development. “It can be done.”
Work is organic, it starts with reaching out and discussing issues with partnerships. DH organizes international retreats, to study results and produce agendas. In the meantime, they produce small input papers.
Funding is organized through a 3-year plan. “We do have a calendar.” They set goals for the span in terms of objectives and documents.
Work is high level, advising UN. They don’t respond to emergencies other than to use them to illustrate policy pros and cons.
From Sweden looking abroad
It is difficult to implement programs at a distance.
DH’s approach is bringing people to Sweden or New York.
She calls the network around the world, reached out to organizations with similar goals around the world.
Sigrid enjoyed travelling. Now she’s a mother, the position works for her.
Work gives her some flexibility with how she manages her time.
“Time is wasted.” A lot of group discussions, people don’t dare to make decisions individually.
Not a career planner, more organic. She balances her career along with his husband’s who also works in the sector. Mutual desire for more ground work.
Time of crisis
ICCM, USAID program. The donor has different goals than she had set out. Lots of investment had been incurred. What to do?
“You think you’re speaking the same language and you’re not. When I say ‘peace building’ you hear ‘counterinsurgency.’”
She raised the issue. Later left the project, and the organization. But she had built a network.
Realize the importance of the network. Work, projects, recruitment are done based on relationships.
“Make friends with the people who work at the organization you want to work in.”
“Go to events, shine in front of the leaders for the few seconds they give you.”
Please share, participate and leave feedback below!
If you have any feedback you’d like to share for me or Sigrid, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below! I read all of them and will definitely take part in the conversation.
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