10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bertil Hult

When it comes to the business world, few names conjure up as much respect and admiration as Bertil Hult, the founder of EF Education First, a global education and travel company. Hult’s journey from humble beginnings to billionaire status is one fuelled by hard work, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to providing unique learning experiences. Despite his international fame, there are a number of facts about Hult’s life that remain surprisingly unknown to the wider public. Here are ten things you possibly didn’t know about Bertil Hult.

1. Struggled with Dyslexia

Despite founding one of the world’s largest education companies, Hult had a challenging start to his learning life. He was diagnosed with dyslexia, a condition that hinders the ability to read, write, and spell. This condition significantly impacted his schooling years, and as a result, he left formal education at the age of 17.

However, Hult did not let this early setback define his future. Instead, it fueled his tenacity and gave him the motivation to create better educational environments and opportunities for others – a quest that ultimately led to the establishment of EF Education First.

2. Started His Business without a University Degree

In a world where a university degree is often seen as a prerequisite to business success, Hult is a striking exception. Having left school due to his trouble with dyslexia, he never pursued a university degree. Nonetheless, his deep passion for education and a powerful entrepreneurial spirit drove him forward.

Hult started EF Education First in 1965, basing his business model on the idea of learning a language in the country where it is spoken. This immersive approach became a tremendous success, and his company now operates in over 50 countries.

3. His Successful European Driving Tour

In 1965, Hult organised a European driving tour for a group of students, aiming to immerse them in the culture and language of the countries they visited. This tour, which was the start of his business, was not just a financial success – it also set the foundation for Hult’s innovative approach to language learning.

This successful venture marked the start of EF Education First, which is now renowned for offering language learning, academic degree programs, cultural exchange, and educational travel services globally.

4. Pioneered the Concept of Educational Travel

While travel agencies and language schools existed even before Hult’s time, he was one of the first to effectively combine these two spheres and introduced the concept of ‘educational travel’. This approach involves immersive, in-situ language learning experiences in the form of travel and cultural exchanges.

Today, EF Education First is a pioneer in educational travel, and their programmes are embraced by millions of students and adults around the globe.

5. Hult is an Avid Philanthropist

Bertil Hult doesn’t just excel in business. His philanthropic endeavors, too, find extensive recognition. In 2005, he and his family established the Hult International Business School, a leading global business school that operates in multiple cities around the world. The institution offers graduate and undergraduate programs in international business.

The Hult family also donates generously to several charities, and Bertil Hult himself is known for making contributions towards efforts aimed at finding a cure for learning disabilities, including dyslexia.

6. Recipient of UNCA’s Global Citizen of the Year

In 2006, Bertil Hult was honored with ‘The Global Citizen of the Year’ award by the United Nations Correspondents Association for his work toward promoting global education and development. Hult’s commitment to providing quality and accessible education globally has consistently earned international recognition – a testament to the reach and impact of his contributions.

This prestigious award recognises outstanding individuals who embody international ideals and service, and promote global progress.

7. Founded Hult Prize Foundation

Bertil Hult believes strongly in empowering the next generation of business leaders. As an instrument of this belief, he co-founded Hult Prize Foundation with his son. This institute annually gives out the Hult Prize, a $1,000,000 seed money award, to students who can create the most effective and innovative social enterprise.

The Hult Prize is known worldwide as the ‘Nobel Prize for students’. It has empowered thousands of young people to drive social change through entrepreneurship and innovation.

8. He is a Father of Four

Aside from his business interactions, Hult has always prioritized his family. He and his wife Margareta, whom he met when he was just 23 years old, have four sons – Alex, Philip, Eddie and Jacob.

His children have followed in his entrepreneurial footsteps. Philip Hult, for instance, co-chairs EF Education First with his brother Alex. The youngest son, Jacob, is involved with Hult’s philanthropic efforts, particularly the Hult Prize Foundation.

9. Has Seven Honorary Doctorates

Despite not having a university degree himself, Hult has received seven honorary doctorates over the years. These recognitions come from leading institutions like Middlesex University and the University of Greenwich in the UK, and Hanken School of Economics in Finland.

The recognition from these esteemed institutions highlights Hult’s influence in the global education industry and his significant contribution to innovative, immersive language learning methodologies.

10. EF Education First is a Major Sponsor of Pro Cycling

One of the less-known facts about Hult’s company EF Education First is its major sponsorship of professional cycling. The company sponsors EF Pro Cycling, a UCI WorldTeam that competes in the world’s biggest bike races, from the Tour de France to La Vuelta a Espana and more.

Not only does this shine a light on Hult’s personal passion for sport, it also helps promote cultural exchange and learning – tenets central to EF Education First’s ethos.

Concluding Thoughts

Bertil Hult’s life and career are the quintessential stories of triumph over adversity. His relentless determination in the face of personal and professional challenges is truly inspirational, making him one of the most influential figures in global education. Unearthing these lesser-known aspects about him only adds more depth to his personality, illustrating him not just as a successful businessman, but also as a passionate educator, philanthropist and family man.

Here are some useful links to learn more about Bertil Hult and his work:

EF Education First: Our Company, Our History

Forbes: Profile of Bertil Hult

Hult Blogs: The Spirit of Bertil Hult’s Entrepreneurship

Hult Prize Foundation: Official Website