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Important roles must go to
the best candidate
District governor training and wide exposure an advantage
Let’s say this up front. Taking on the role of district governor is
an enormous commitment, and we regular Rotarians do need
to pause and reflect on the extraordinary dedication that our
current and past district governors have made to Rotary service.
To those who have risen to this challenge, I say thank you.
But, surely, if we wish to strengthen and grow Rotary, every
important role in our organisation needs to go to the best
candidate. Period. Sometimes, the best candidate is a past
district governor, but we’re kidding ourselves and, more to the
point, we are missing out on some amazing talent if we reserve
these roles solely for PDGs.
Fortunately, my own district learned many years ago that
the best candidate for many district roles sat outside of our
collection of PDGs, and many of those important roles have
since been expertly carried out by non-PDGs. There seems very
much a will to “keep PDGs busy” and “not let their knowledge
and skillset go to waste”, so important roles end up falling in
their laps, irrespective of whether they are the best candidate
But for a few notable exceptions, the role of district governor
appears within reach for only retired or semi-retired, financially
secure, empty nesters. I feel we could desperately use some
young, modern, progressive and innovative minds in major
district and zone roles to help tackle some of our challenges.
The question is, can we afford to wait until they are all in their
70s to give them a go?
Rotary Club of Edwardstown, SA
District 9520 Membership Chair
(Ambitious, but self-employed with young dependent
children and unlikely to become a PDG for a long, long time.)
I was incredibly humbled that past Rotary International president Sakuji Tanaka gave me the three-year term role of Zone 8’s public
image coordinator in 2012 – an opportunity that would traditionally have been given to a past district governor, a role I have not held.
Having held that public image role for the three years and experienced first-hand how Rotary operates at the international level, I
can certainly understand why holding a district governor’s position would be a considerable advantage.
The international training district governors receive, together with the experience they gain over a three-year period of working in a
team dealing across multiple and diverse cultures, both locally and globally, is powerful preparation for greater responsibilities at zone
or international levels. Equally, experiencing the diversity and success of clubs and Rotarians under their stewardship is, in my opinion,
just as important.
I’m not sure “rising through the organisation” is quite what I believe to be the right terminology when we talk about Rotary
careers or influencing change. We need to remember that no matter what role we take on as Rotarians (be it at club, district, zone
or international level), we are still volunteers serving our communities. Greater responsibility does not automatically put someone
at a higher level than any other Rotarian. The necessary experience and “leadership” qualities are what count when it comes to
influencing change and growth.
There will always be some people who wish to grow their Rotary careers and others who are content at certain levels of
responsibility. It is often the district governors who see the potential in certain Rotarians to take on roles that require certain
experiences, and this is usually due to their wide Rotary exposure and exceptional training.
Rotary Club of Southbank, Vic
Leadership and experience is important in any
organisation, particularly one that has stood the test of
time over 111 years. Most people join Rotary with the
ideal of service motivating them to engage in projects
and participate in club activities. Embarking on the
journey of district governor is in itself a service, one that
helps Rotarians further develop their experience and
continue to learn and understand the realms of what
Rotary encapsulates and values.
Every district governor leads their district in a unique
way and each has their own experiences. This wealth
of involvement and knowledge is shared by over 500
people each year. As these people “rise” through the
organisation, they are in a strong position to enhance
the potential of Rotary and make changes for the
greater good. They make informed decisions, ones that
are backed with an understanding of Rotary in their
part of the world and, in time, the internationality of
the organisation. To preserve the integrity of Rotary
International, we need to have leaders with experience,
those who understand clubs and Rotarians and what
makes them tick. The growth and potential of Rotary
is based on this diversity and insight, enabling us to
continue to serve the world.
Rotary Club of Roseville Chase, NSW
Rotary grows through
the knowledge and
experience of its leaders
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