Thomas Bornheim is the CEO of 42 Heilbronn. This family guy is dedicated to building a better world through education… and also a hell of a foosball player!
What do you like the most about your position?
This is such a diverse and challenging job. I cannot imagine anything more difficult for me right now and that’s why I love to do it. I don’t think there are many opportunities at 46 where you still can learn something new and have a meaningful impact helping others to learn and to grow. I’m also able to play up my strengths and use the skills I have to help other people be successful in a lot of core functions: pedagogy, network and partners relationships, feedbacks from the community and the city…
What drove you to 42?
I’ve been investing in educational efforts for years at my job at Google and I worked there for 14 years. Its mission is to organise the world’s information. At some point, you wonder how you now organise information inside a human head: that’s education. It was a natural step from going from a search engine to putting focus on educating individuals. Right now, the most important thing that I am is being a family guy and a father of two, it helps me put things into perspective.
What is the core principle you value the most at 42?
For me, it’s diversity. I’m a specialist, I’ve been working with Excel, and if you could look into my head, there are a bunch of spreadsheets. It’s really boring there! Up until a point, when I was looking for others specialists, I was looking for people like me. When you manage a lot of people like this, you’ll be surprised but they can only produce one thing: spreadsheets. That’s when I realised there is only so much you can do, but look for other incredibly valuable skills, all reflecting a different perspective on a problem. Beautiful products are products that are built with diverse perspectives and with a lot of love. They are products for everybody and not just for the few special people out there that have “spreadsheets in their heads”.
What are your thoughts on the future of education?
In the next 10 to 20 years, I believe that there will only be the 42 way of learning. At that point we will be “old school” and I’m already preparing for it. This is the future I want to live through. I’m really happy to push the 42 method now and get others curious about it. I know that because we’re so successful, it will one day be mainstream and boring!
Was it a hard time launching a new campus during the sanitary crisis?
I received so much support from other 42 campuses! It was a challenging time, but it was not a problem at all. Our network is such a strong one with such a good amount of spirited people. This is something everybody who’s new can rely on. It’s an amazing group of people, driven not just by our minds but also by our hearts and our spirit.