42 Berlin Staff Spotlight: Viola Sommer

With the grand opening of the 42 Berlin campus a month away, we wanted to begin sharing a behind-the-scenes look at some of the incredible people making the launch possible. Who better to begin with than Viola Sommer, our Operations Lead for 42 Berlin?

Viola ensures the schools runs smoothly thanks to her involvement in HR, recruitment, networking, financials, office management…you name it! Viola aims to diversify tech and hopes to build a campus in Berlin that offers flexibility and accommodation for all different needs. She hasn’t always worked in the tech and education industry, though — read on to discover the amazing path that led Viola to 42 Berlin (and the one thing she wishes she could go back and tell her 13-year-old self).

I wanted to apply as a student but then saw my role advertised and I knew that it was the one for me. I still want to study at 42 Berlin at some point though.

8 months.

As Ops Lead I look after the daily running of our Berlin school, including our financials, HR & recruitment or the legal bits. I manage our refurbishment project, turning Geyerwerke from a former co-working space into a cutting edge coding school campus. My work also covers the actual management of the campus, together with our incredible Welcome Managers Sheila & Kars.

I spent my entire academic and professional career in London before joining 42 Berlin. I studied Psychology up to PhD level and specialised in neurodiversity. I then started my own tech venture with myself as COO — an IT consultancy exclusively employing autistic talent. 7 years later the company is now the UK’s largest social enterprise and I’m really proud of what it has achieved. During the pandemic my family and I decided to relocate to Berlin, which is why I made the career change.

Refurbishing our campus. We have an amazing architect and I am learning so much.

We are currently building a community from scratch here — our Pisciners, future students and staff are the best and most interesting/diverse bunch of people I could think of. They are on my mind in everything I do. It’s such a good feeling to come together and enjoy the space we created.

Open, supportive, professional, flexible, inclusive, fun.

Best team I have ever worked with.

I am hugely passionate about diversifying tech. I think it will make us better as a society on the whole and drive innovation.

I would like to be peer-mentored by my team. They are all so competent in their respective areas and I would love to learn more from them

Learning to me is an act of self care, an investment into yourself. I also think studying with other people is a really good opportunity to make friends for life.

I have two truly awful tattoos that I got when I was 13 and 15 respectively. I managed to hide them from my parents until I was 18 — they weren’t impressed when they found out.

I don’t have time to read, I have two toddlers at home.

I am very much into food, cooking just as much as eating. I read cookbooks like other people read novels.

Cooking and/or eating out with friends.

Home — to see friends in London for New Years.

I just finished watching Euphoria all over again. I’m so into it.

Homemade wontons with chilli oil.

Don’t get those awful tattoos.

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42 Wolfsburg/Berlin

42 is an innovative, higher education software engineering school, sponsored by Volkswagen