Géro Vigney is the General Manager of 42 Perpignan. He talks about why he chose this position, having been a student himself in the first 42 class in Paris in 2013.
What is your role as General Manager of 42 Perpignan?
Being the general manager means meeting many people: not only candidates, students, and their parents, but also public and private sector organizations etc. These meetings are all very enriching, even when the campus was still under construction. It also means being confronted with growing levels of poverty among students. It’s tough to see candidates struggling and not being able to go through their Piscine the way they’d like to. Some of them face tremendous economic issues, like only having 20e to eat all month, others live in hostels with strict hours, while others face yet more personal difficulties, like undergoing gender transition. These are everyday battles that we have to fight at 42 Perpignan, to make sure that our students are housed, fed, accompanied, and can focus on their studies.
What is your background?
After graduating from 42 in Paris, I went on to do a number of small assignments. I wanted to gain experience in as many tech-related things as I could, without getting stuck in just one area. I took advantage of the opportunities from partners I met on the 42 campus in Paris: LVMH, Prestashop, and Human Craft. I returned home to Perpignan and worked with a company specializing in software design. Simultaneously, I kept a keen eye on 42, its growth and its developments, until I learned that a campus was going to open in the region. When the project became a reality in Perpignan, I had my doubts about applying for the position of General Manager as I feared that it would mean losing touch with coding and technology — but in the end, I got convinced.
To you, what is the most important value at 42?
For me, it’s diversity. When everyone thinks in the same manner, you don’t really move forward. There is no point in trying to be innovative if no one has a new perspective or new experiences to bring to the table. By having a varied range of profiles, you really benefit from collective intelligence. You always have to see the other person as a human being in their own right and welcome them as they are, without trying to stereotype them. Today, my best friends are former students I met at 42, whom I probably never would have met elsewhere, and with whom I had nothing in common.
You were a student at 42 in Paris from 2013 onwards: how does this help you in your daily life?
The first advantage is that I already know what the candidates and students of 42 Perpignan are going through! I know the stress and fatigue that the Piscine generates, I know what exchanges you can have with your classmates, I have already experienced the training at 42. As there is no obligation to be present or to finish the course, I know what personal investment is necessary and what resolve is needed to work on certain projects without being attracted by seemingly tempting job offers and to go to the end of the course. This allows me to empathise with the students’ problems. Secondly, I am able to bring my own vision from my personal experience on the Perpignan campus, particularly in terms of supporting the profiles that need it most.
What is your vision of the future of education?
Today, there are too many people who are unhappy with what they do. I think it’s because they’ve been sitting in a classroom and were fed knowledge without choosing it. I would like to see education take a more horizontal approach, where sharing is valued, like 42 does with peer learning. When you have to seek out knowledge, you instinctively go to something that you care about, that inspires you and gets you excited. Letting students learn independently allows them to flourish both in their studies and later in their professional careers.