“42 is excellence without elitism!”
Stephan Salberter is Director of 19, the 42 campus located in Brussels and opened in 2018. He shares his thoughts for an education that truly takes the human into account.
What is your favourite thing about being the director of 19?
It’s seeing the impact you have on the lives of students, seeing them evolve, and meeting them again once they have a job. They all have life stories that stand out for me. For example, a student who had tears in his eyes, telling how 12–18 months ago he was delivering burgers for Deliveroo, and now he was at 19 giving a presentation in front of over 100 people. Or a Ukrainian refugee who arrived at 17 a few months ago and has now passed his entrance exam for an engineering university.
What is your background?
I am a marketing and brand man! I worked for 25 years in finance where I was marketing, communication and sustainable development director for major banking brands in different countries around the world. And then, at some point, I wanted to have a societal impact. I created my own company to support the development of more community-based strategies. My first project was for the two founders of School 19, John Bogaerts and Ian Gallienne. What was supposed to be a few months’ assignment has now lasted almost five years. I also run a start-up incubator and a media company related to entrepreneurship: I have other activities as a freelancer and this combination suits me perfectly.
What would you like to see in education in the future?
I would like education to be more inclusive, more flexible in terms of modes, and to allow everyone to find their own way, while maintaining a high level of standards. 42 for example, is excellence without elitism. I think we should take inspiration from this in many other sectors!
What makes the Piscine experience unique on the 19 campus?
What characterises the Piscine at 19 is the experience and the benevolence. It’s a bit of a special dynamic. There are some difficulties at the beginning, a festive atmosphere that can 4settle in for a calmer atmosphere. It’s the creation of a group and the discovery of the campus. The word that comes to mind is really benevolence and the will to help each other.
Of all the values shared by the #42Network campuses, which one would you choose?
I always put three of them forward: autonomy, creativity, and collaboration! But if I had to choose one in particular, it would be collaboration. Without it, you are nothing. One person can change the world, but alone they are nothing. It’s the same thing on our campuses: we need people who are motivated, autonomous, willing, but if they stay alone they don’t progress.