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I will now take you on a short personal journey. I have been involved in competitive sports for many years now. I am a former water polo player and served as both a coach and an assistant coach of a women’s Bundesliga team in Hamburg, the women’s national team and the deaf national team. I have a true passion for water sports and for my job.

Looking back, there were – and still are – certain personality traits that have helped me overall and can guide you to success in one situation or another. I developed them by taking part in competitive sports. From there, I built on them and now also apply them in my day-to-day work. In my day job I am a software test manager. I work at adesso in the Line of Business Public, and I am also active in the Testing in Public Projects (TIPP) community.

Personality traits that I apply in sports and at work

My aim here is not to lay out a set of golden rules, because everyone is different in terms of what motivates them and how they seek fulfilment. Many people are happy with where they are in life, while others are on the road to success, even if they sometimes stray from the path.

For me personally, I can say that I practise the following personality traits both in sport and in my job:


This is a unique trait that involves the ability to empathise with what other players or co-workers are feeling, thinking and, above all, how they see the world. In the best-case scenario, you are also able to understand the world from their point of view. This proves to be of great help both for me as a coach and as a test manager. There is some debate as to how important empathy is. For example, a little bit of empathy can go a long way in helping you be a successful manager or coach. But if you are highly empathetic, I believe this makes it easier to foster motivation and increase people’s willingness to work together.

Recognising and accepting a person’s needs and differences, i.e., their individual qualities and abilities, leads to better teamwork. Being part of a team makes you strong. This also applies to athletes in non-team sports, because they also need a well-oiled team around them to succeed.


Having a passion or zeal for something means you want to share it with others. It means having the ability to inspire others with your ideas and having the drive and inspiration to join in, constantly improve, realise your full potential and push your boundaries. This personality trait is closely linked with being curious. You have to constantly grow as a person and stay up to date in order to provide optimal support to your players and colleagues.

Passion is also important in order to overcome challenges and move on when you encounter a setback – in sports as well as at work. You cannot give up when things get tough and are not going your way, whether in a project or on the pitch. Instead, you have to stay motivated and dedicated in order to find solutions for yourself and your team.


Self-confidence is often built on a strong foundation of knowledge and preparation. This applies to me both as a coach who has to know the rules of the game, the tactics as well as the techniques used in my sport and to me as a (line) manager who knows his field and the processes at the company well.

It is important to speak clearly and concisely when giving instructions or making decisions. It is also important to choose your words carefully. The message should be easy to understand and presented with confidence. In other words, be confident in your actions.

Dependability and discipline

For me, this means:

  • Showing up on time: This means being on time for practice, for a match, for a meeting, for a business appointment and for work (even if you set your own hours). We all know someone who somehow manages to always show up late. They may have legitimate reasons for this, but that is not what I am talking about here. If you do not have a valid excuse, it is a sign of disrespect to others if you fail to show up at the allotted time or fail to meet an agreed deadline.
  • Being prepared: Be thoroughly prepared for practice, for matches and for business appointments.
  • Sticking by your decisions: Live up to your promises and commitments, and be transparent in the decisions you make – both in sports and at work. Understand that you can use rules and guard rails to guide your decisions and actions.
  • Ensuring privacy and confidentiality: Respect the privacy of your teammates, your players and your colleagues. Treat confidential information with the necessary discretion.

The courage to take one step forward, even if this might also mean taking two steps backwards. Self-confidence, which we already touched on, is also needed to face up to new challenges and changes as well as stand up for your convictions. No matter how good the idea might be, if you cannot get the message across, it will be difficult to win other people over.

Courage also means taking responsibility for your actions and decisions, even if this means admitting mistakes. Mistakes happen, but you need to learn from them. They can be brought up and discussed in both a sports and professional context. The more responsibility you have and the more you find yourself in the (media) spotlight, the fewer mistakes you can afford to make. It is also quite clear that as the responsibility you are given grows, the potential consequences of a mistake also grow in line with this.

From a career perspective, the boldest step I ever made was to leave the company I had been with for 20 years and accept all the changes that came with this. This step paid off in many ways. I now have a pleasant, collegial workplace, a great employer and a number of opportunities both inside and out of the company to grow and develop. To this day, I have not regretted my decision once.

Now back to sports, my other great passion. Just over two decades ago in 2002, I was part of the national deaf water polo team that won the European championships. This is an experience I will never forget.

The situation at the time looked anything but promising. The water polo association made a mistake and booked rooms for the team at a pub. Then there was the issue of what to do about food. Nothing had been done on this front, meaning that the players had to prepare their own meals after practice and after matches. But there was no ‘woe is me’ attitude. Instead, it really motivated the squad, which was rewarded with a great team effort over the course of the tournament that ended with us winning gold. It was an exciting time that had a huge impact on me. I learnt a lot from this experience.

Want to learn more?

If you would like to learn more about my background in sports or the TIPP community, where we discuss professional topics inside and outside the adesso world, please feel free to contact me:

Would you like to learn more about exciting topics from the adesso world? Then take a look at our latest blog posts.

Picture Sven Sethmann

Author Sven Sethmann

Sven Sethmann is a software test manager in the Line of Business Public at adesso. Among other things, Sven is active in the "Testing in Public Projects" (TIPP) community.

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