Alumni of the month: Arvid Hallén
On 1st of March Arvid Hallén resigned as managing director of the Research Council. Now he will be deputy chairman and contribute to the development of the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. He recalls the good student environment at Social Anthropology and lectures with Fredrik Barth himself.
What do you remember best from your university days at UiB?
I thought it was very exciting to attend the University because of a stimulating student environment and new and more independent ways to work. After the preliminary semester, my first subject was Social Anthropology, where I graduated with a basic level subject and intermediate level subject, with Fredrik Barth as my first lecturer. We had a very good student environment and the lectures were incredible exciting.
At UiB, you have studied both Social Anthropology and Public Administration. Why did you choose these subjects?
I chose Social Anthropology because I was very interested in the “Third World” and questions related to development and development aid. We got a system perspective that I have carried with me ever since. I chose Public Administration because I was interested in politics and administration. In third grade in high school, I wrote about the American Constitution. I got to work as an assistant for Professor Johan P. Olsen and it was very stimulating.
Do you have some good advice for today’s students?
Today, it is probably just as important as before to take the time to properly immerse yourself, to get inside the subject. Secondly, you have to spend enough time on your studies, think long-term and accept that certain things need to be postponed. Nevertheless, looking back at your student days will always have its own radiance. Thirdly, do not focus too narrowly, but seek out different impulses both professionally and in the student environment.
What are you most pleased to have achieved as executive director of Norway’s Research Council?
I am pleased that I have contributed to reconciling the Research Council’s extensive mandate, as it is now acting as an organization. I am also pleased that the Research Council has been a strong driving force for quality development in Norwegian research, also contributing to a significant internationalization. Moreover, it has been important to create a broad understanding of the role of the research in society. Declaring that research alone cannot be enough and acknowledge its important role in society, contributes to making research more significant on a political level than ever before.
Which part of your education have you most enjoyed in working life?
I have used my entire education. Since my three social studies were well connected, combined with self-studies of philosophy of science, I got a good academic foundation for my research during first ten years. In my 30 years as a leader, I have had great pleasure in Organizational Theory, which was the first central subject of Public Administration, although other sources are also necessary in order to develop organizational understanding and ability to handle practical management.
Do you have a good advice to other alumni concerning career development?
Here, the individual must follow his/her own path, but I get the feeling that youth today talk more about building their CV, than we did in the 70s. I have recruited many people and seen an incredible wide variety in education and experience. If you do a proper job, work independently and take responsibility, this is more visible than you would think.
You are the next chairman of the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), what plans do you have for the rest of 2017?
I look forward to contributing to the development of a strong college in Western Norway. I am also on the board of CBS (Copenhagen Business School) in Copenhagen. Additionally, I will work with internationalization issues until summer. Beyond that, time will tell, I plan to work virtually full time for the coming years, including the board, inquires and evaluations.