Alumni recognized in Forbes 30 Under 30

An entrepreneur since his teens, this past year brought many surprises, challenges and rewards to Part-Time MA Digital Management student Raphael Reber. The Swiss-based CEO of Zeilenwerk and Co-Founder of Impact Hub Bern was this week recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30

When it rains it pours they say. When Raphael learned of this accomplishment and recognition he was preparing for his final on-site modules for his masters in Stockholm. We caught up with him shortly after over the phone to unpack what all of this means!

From what we understand the past year has been a whirlwind – work, studies, family and now this recognition in Forbes. How are you feeling?

Flattered. Everything coming together between the last days on campus with Hyper Island and this news from Forbes in the last couple weeks. It’s a nice recognition, especially all the time and effort and diversity of projects I undertake. In February we welcomed a daughter so I am also new father. There’s a lot of good stuff happening!

What were you looking for prior to joining Hyper Island?

Well, I’d been self employed since I was 14 years old. School and university were like a side project of mine. My main focus was taking on projects, start-ups, working at or running companies.

By the end of 2014 I’d founded the digital studio and after 2 years of building it up, things were going well and I felt the urge of starting something new, which then led to the creation of Impact Hub in Bern. And then 2 years after that I returned back to the digital studio to take over leadership responsibilities again.

At each step of the journey, I’ve been very hands on, entrepreneurial, and action oriented. I undertook my Bachelors in Business Administration while working too. I felt after 5 years, I was really ready to take on some new input from another point of view, even a little more academic in places. Giving myself the space and time to go back and learn something new was very important, especially after another two years of work.

What were some factors that helped you decide to join Hyper Island?

I applied on the last day of the application deadline! I wanted back into actually learning new things, not only just doing, balancing that with studying and researching. Of course having the opportunity to exchange thoughts with other people from across Europe is what drew me to Stockholm and to the program, along with an interest in Scandinavian culture and approaches to learning.

What does Learning represent for you and your life?

I’m a huge fan of the distinction between fixed and growth mindsets, leaning heavily into the second one personally. It’s my personal point of view for learning in general. There probably won’t ever be a time when one does not have to learn. The greatest opportunity to learn is to surround myself with really intelligent and interesting people. That drew me to Hyper Island. Especially in my case, after university, after working for 5 years now, I wanted to go back again into an academic and research oriented environment. It felt great and over the past couple of years I had lost a little bit, or lost track of things. It was really nice to be there now, closer to academia and certain topics and new points of view.

What are one or two things you worked with that are on now on your mind and would like to continue exploring?

Working in software development, I was in a familiar place with much of the technology aspects of the program. But what I really enjoyed were the topics team development and business transformation. Up until this past year, I’ve not had the chance to invest and explore in these areas so much. The different models used, combined with the input from different speakers from the corporate side of industry were especially interesting for me. The many ways of developing teams, games, and approaches along with the chance to apply them almost immediately made it really interesting to see how they work in different environments. For example, we recently had a team day at my company before summer and it was a new experience, applying them outside and not only with Hyper Island students. It was super interesting and with great learnings!

Advice to anyone exploring further education…

Go beyond your comfort zone and do things you may not like to do. Go out and talk to someone about a product, service or idea you have. Do it for yourself. I came to the conclusion that sitting in an office alone and not sharing ideas, is the worst thing you can do. Get out there, be it a meet up or joining some type of community and find experiential learning. It really worked so much much better for me than anything I ever did in terms of traditional education.

What kept you afloat and anchored in this demanding year?

Amazing support at home from my girlfriend. She really made it a possibility to come to Stockholm each month. Something else, and I am not sure if it was specifically the Masters or something that developed during but I often now think about the stuff I won’t or don’t do, rather than stuff I could or want to do.

This really helped me to prioritize where to spend my time and energy. At Zeilenwerk we are a fairly small team of 10 and it was also very key that my team supported me during the days I was in Stockholm too.

Overall it was a balance of different things. My life changed completely in a year and somehow, due to my nature and being in this entrepreneurial mindset. I managed. It’s not another job per se, but it’s a challenge or challenges one faces as an entrepreneur to really, really strictly apply the tools one has. Almost “eisenhower-ing” everything you do. Relentless doing what needs to be done in order to succeed.

Final takeaways….

What I really liked about Hyper Island was being in a constant feedback loop. Learning new, going to work, applying it, and then going back to studying and exploring. It was a constant input of new ideas with the ability to apply them directly. I really liked this aspect and it was a good decision for me to study part-time at Hyper Island.

To read the full profile of Raphael in Forbes please click here.
More info on the digital studio Zeilenwerk and Impact Hub Bern.

Raphael is a community man. Connect with him and say hi:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/raphael-reber/
https://twitter.com/raphaelreber