- 6 Jul, 23
Bertil Hult 101: Famous Swedish Billionaire
In this article titled “Who is Bertil Hult 101: Famous Swedish Billionaire?” on Zatrun.com, we will delve into everything you need to know about the renowned Swedish billionaire, Bertil Hult.
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Who is Bertil Hult?
Bertil Eric Hult (born February 10, 1941) is a Swedish billionaire known for founding EF Education First, an education and language school company, in 1965 and for being the patron and namesake of the Hult International Business School. Hult moved from Sweden to Germany in 1971 and established EF’s headquarters in Lucerne, Switzerland, where he currently resides, in 1977. He served as the company’s CEO until 2002 and continued as chairman until 2008.
Today, Hult is semi-retired. Two of his four sons work for the company; his eldest son Philip Hult serves as company chairman and his third son Edward Hult serves as North America CEO. Under Bertil Hult’s supervision, EF has become a multibillion-dollar company with over 40,000 employees in 53 countries. Bertil Hult has been married to Lisbeth Hult since 1974, and the couple resides in Lucerne, Switzerland. They have four sons, two of whom currently hold leadership positions at EF Education First.
Bertil Hult was born in Stockholm and has spoken openly about his childhood struggles with dyslexia. He dropped out of school after middle school and worked as a coffee maker and errand runner for a ship broker in London. During this time, he became convinced that learning English and languages was the best way forward. He returned to Sweden and started his education again, entering Lund University, but dropped out after one year.
At the age of 23, Bertil Hult founded EF Education First in the basement of a university dormitory in Lund, Sweden. Initially launched as a language study and travel abroad organization for Swedish high school students who were learning English and traveling to England. His childhood struggles with dyslexia convinced him that learning a language through cultural integration was superior. He served as CEO of the company until 2002 and then as chairman until 2008 before semi-retiring. Under Hult’s supervision, EF grew into a multibillion-dollar company with 40,000+ employees and 500 schools and education programs in 53 different countries.
EF continues to open language schools worldwide, expand its online language school (EF Englishtown), place au pairs with American families, coordinate life-changing student travel experiences, and offer international exchange programs. It is also affiliated with a business school called Hult International Business School, which is named after Bertil Hult following the Arthur D. Little School of Management. EF Education First is wholly owned by the Hult family. Forbes estimated Bertil’s net worth to be $5 billion USD in March 2015.
He is an avid sailor and won the 1998 Whitbread Round the World Race on his boat called EF Education. He currently sails on his boat Erica XII, which was once used as the honeymoon suite for Sweden’s Princess Victoria and her husband Prince Daniel. In 2006, he was named International Swede of the Year. In 2012, Bertil Hult was awarded the Lucia Trade Award by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce for promoting free trade. In 2014, Bertil Hult was named a Laureate by the World Entrepreneurship Forum, which honors exceptional entrepreneurs for their societal impacts and world-changing capacities.
In addition to EF, Hult has been involved in charity organizations that combat drug addiction and promote dyslexia education. In 1993, he became a founding member of the Mentor Foundation, based in Geneva. The Mentor Foundation is an independent, non-governmental, non-profit, and politically neutral organization that supports research and initiatives in drug prevention. Since then, he has been the president of the foundation and currently serves as a member of the board of trustees. Bertil Hult also supports the Bertil Hult Award, which has been given to a Swedish school each year since 2003 based on their support for dyslexia education.
Hult also supports the Hult Prize, a global business school case competition run by Hult International Business School and supported by the United Nations, which offers a $1 million prize. Recently, the Hult family established EF’s Global Classroom Foundation, which aims to help rebuild primary schools in troubled areas.