As director of 42 Lyon, Caroline Le Brun has put her experience in higher education to work for the good of the campus.
What does the position of Director of 42 Lyon mean to you?
For me, 42 ticks all the boxes: education, social, economic. Our students, young or not so young, have a guaranteed job at the end of their studies. The pedagogy also speaks to me a lot. I find that the peer-to-peer model is a virtuous one that allows students to regain confidence in themselves and find meaning in their studies. Finally, I really like the variety. The Bocal of 42 Lyon is a small team, which means that I am a Swiss Army knife. I go from a meeting with a partner to receiving packages for the campus layout, and then I talk to students and review their professional experiences. I never do the same thing twice in the same day and am constantly learning new things.
What was your background before 42?
I’ve been working in higher education since 2006. Each time, I was on totally different projects. I started with an entrepreneur forum with a very strong academic dimension for a business school. I then participated in a project to group together public training courses for an engineering school, in conjunction with many public sector actors. With 42, I’m in charge of a much more concrete project, which has less political aspects, and which allows me to immediately see the effects of the actions that we put in place. I didn’t think I would specialize in education, but I discovered a sector with a multitude of actors and I feel like I have lived three different lives. That’s what I like about my career!
What surprised you the most when you took up management in 42 Lyon?
I was surprised by the availability of the students! When you’re in a higher education institution, students usually spend their time rushing through the corridors to avoid being late for a class or an exam. Here, and this is what strikes companies as well, students can, at any time of the day, make themselves available to discuss their course for example. This is linked to our pedagogy based on exchange, which means that we are always ready to share an experience with someone. I also see it in the connections I can have with them, much more than in other institutions.
What lessons could the “classic” system learn about the methods of 42?
Here, the students are well and truly actors of their education — and that, for me, really is the key to all learning. Understanding what you are learning is a victory. Unfortunately, the current school system means that we learn by rote for evaluations and then forget very quickly. We are on quantity, not on quality. Going out and finding your own knowledge: that’s the key! Many other schools talk about these concepts and try to emphasize them. With 42, this value is embodied, without having to claim it.
What are the values of 42 that you advocate?
For me, there are two values that are very dear to me at 42. First, there is gender diversity. It’s a challenge that I’m very attached to: moving towards parity on the 42 Lyon campus. Then there’s adaptability. Nothing ever happens quite the way we planned, even more so today than before. Our students are capable of stepping out of their comfort zone and being resilient in the face of challenges and projects that make them lose their edge. This is fundamental to success, both at 42 and in society.