Philipp Arlt, an industrial engineer, 1st division rugby player turned social entrepreneur. He is the Founder and CEO of the MUT Academy (“Mut” literally meaning “courage” in German), a one-year scholarship programme for school kids at risk of staying down a year or failing their secondary school degree. Having consulted teachers and parents his team now organises one-week revision/learning camps, seminars and mentoring programmes. – Interview by ASTRID SCHRADER
The Arc: Philipp, what happened that you took this massive turn from the your rather technical studies to running a people-driven social entreprise?
Philipp: What looks like a “massive turn” is a rather logical step based on reflection and insight about myself -my interests and strengths- and the world. How it works and what it needs. I liked the social perspective of my studies: Business engineering teaches you a great deal about human behavior and the mindset to optimize processes. I had always loved learning and teaching sports, languages, analytics, music no matter what. And I was passionate about personal growth and working with people – rather than optimizing value chains and spending my time in front of a screen.
In my mid 20s I realized that I was capable of learning and doing whatever I wanted – and that was to make a real change concerning the challenges here on earth, namely pollution and poverty. I strongly believe that “education is the most powerful weapon to change the world” (Mandela) and that the solutions all lie in changing our belief systems and the forces which drive us.
I was passionate about personal growth and working with people – rather than optimizing value chains and spending my time in front of a screen.
The Arc: From our Arc-internal sources *wink* we know that your time as a pText has been decisive for your decision to pursue the path you are currently on. What was special about this time and how has it impacted you?
Philipp: The Teach First programme was a great journey (almost like travelling) and opened up a whole new world for me – inside and outside. I was surrounded by likeminded people in terms of aspirations, values and energy who shared otherwise very heterogeneous perspectives and approaches to life which inspired me to perceive the world in a new light. The amount of trust, tolerance, and positive mistake and feedback culture helped me grow immensely. The work at school was extremely challenging, put me far out of my comfort zone until my very limits and confronted me with failure, doubt and weakness – something I had seldomly experienced before. Technically, it was my bridge into the education system and provided me with a lot of skills and a supportive community which builds the foundation for my project.
The Arc: You are the Founder and CEO of MUT Academy. If you were your own participant, how would YOU like to be more courageous?
Philipp: I would like to have the courage to let go more often and to accept rejection from people who are holding me back from being who I truly am.
The Arc: You participated in The Arc in August 2017. Maybe you can share the mission you have put up for yourself and your entreprise. What’s the next level for MUT Academy?
Philipp: Our mission is to provide all young people with the opportunities but even more importantly with the mindset to achieve a school and job qualification and use their full potential in order to contribute to society. We have already achieved a great deal of the goals I set for ourselves back then. However, there are so many more young people in Hamburg, in Germany and around the world who would massively benefit from such a programme. This is why we want to scale the programme and bring it into another region in Germany – before expanding into another country and the world.
Our mission is to provide all young people with the opportunities but even more importantly with the mindset to achieve a school and job qualification and use their full potential in order to contribute to society.
The Arc: Last but not least: In 30 seconds – who do YOU dare to be and which IMPACT do you wanna stand for?
Philipp: I want to be a true MUTivator – a role model who encourages and motivates people to live life to the fullest despite the inner and outer obstacles and tackle the big and frightening challenges of our modern world.
The Arc: Thanks so much for the interview. Your enthusiasm is literally changing the world. Thanks for doing this, for sacrificing so much for these teenagers, for your mission. Thanks for staying course. This is awesome.
Philipp Arlt has been a Teach First Deutschland Fellow 2014/2015 and alumnus of The Arc Dresden 2017 (Teach First Leadership Journey 2017).