Former floorball player 

Seraina Ulber 

How did you come across the Ath­le­tes Network?

Back in spring 2020, around two mon­ths into the pan­de­mic, and after I’d announ­ced my reti­re­ment and had to face up to the sud­den end of my sporting care­er, Beni Hug­gel got in touch with me on Insta­gram. He told me about the Ath­le­tes Net­work star­ting up. Initi­al­ly, I was sur­pri­sed and hono­u­red that such a huge sports star like Beni knew who I was and had con­ta­c­ted me. I’m gues­sing he’d assu­med that I was a pro­fes­sio­nal ath­le­te and was about to embark upon the exci­ting pro­cess of moving into a new care­er away from sport. In fact, though, I’d always worked full-time, or clo­se to full-time, along­side my sport. I even stu­di­ed for my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees ‘on the side’, too. Luck­i­ly for me, that meant I didn’t have to face the huge chal­len­ge of deci­ding what to do next, becau­se I could just car­ry on working for my cur­rent employ­er. I still find my job as a Key Account and Pro­duct Mana­ger very rewar­ding, even though I’ve been giving it more atten­ti­on for the last two years or so becau­se I don’t have to put all that effort into sport any longer.

What do you think about the Ath­le­tes Network’s brand and services?

I have to say that I loved the idea as soon as I heard about it. Sin­ce I’ve never been a pro­fes­sio­nal ath­le­te, I’ve never real­ly given much thought to the ser­vices avail­ab­le to me to help me get star­ted in the busi­ness world at the end of my sporting care­er. Having said that, I have occa­sio­nal­ly thought about how you might be able to ease the tran­si­ti­on for pro­fes­sio­nal ath­le­tes who have to embark upon new endea­vours after they reti­re from their sport, and espe­cial­ly about the best ways to pre­pa­re them for life after sport. I pro­bab­ly keep com­ing back to the­se thoughts becau­se my best friend is an ice hockey play­er, and he will be facing this par­ti­cu­lar chal­len­ge in the next few years. The Ath­le­tes Net­work brand is bril­li­ant becau­se it has been crea­ted by such strong per­so­na­li­ties from all sorts of dif­fe­rent fiel­ds. And the team are all so pas­sio­na­te and moti­va­ted as well.

How did you get invol­ved with the various things you’ve done at Sun­ri­se UPC and OBT AG?

I think the­re was a lot of luck invol­ved. I had the honour of giving a speech about my care­er at the second Ath­le­tes Day. I spo­ke about the chal­len­ges of balan­cing a tra­di­tio­nal care­er with a care­er in sport. It just so hap­pen­ed that repre­sen­ta­ti­ves from Sun­ri­se UPC GmbH and OBT AG were at that event too. They enjoy­ed my pre­sen­ta­ti­on and, after I expres­sed an inte­rest, both com­pa­nies invi­ted me to give fur­ther talks over the next few weeks. I was in con­ta­ct with Ste­pha­nie Pil­lichs­ham­mer from Sun­ri­se UPC GmbH qui­te a lot after the first ses­si­on, and I ended up get­ting invol­ved with two more Sun­ri­se UPC workshops.

Can you tell us about the trai­ning on the athlete’s mind­set and the ‘new way of work’ that you worked on with the chan­ge ambassa­dors? What was that all about? How did you approach the trai­ning? How did your own athlete’s mind­set and ear­lier sporting suc­ces­ses help? What did you enjoy most?

The dis­cus­sion on the ‘new way of work’ was abso­lute­ly fasci­na­ting. During the first brie­fing, I noti­ced that Sun­ri­se UPC GmbH were keen to address issu­es that I was all too fami­li­ar with from my care­er as an ama­teur ath­le­te (as oppo­sed to a pro­fes­sio­nal one). I rea­li­sed that peop­le tend to be impres­sed by the balan­cing act per­for­med by top ath­le­tes who can­not make a living enti­re­ly from their sporting acti­vi­ties. The feed­back after the trai­ning was over­whel­min­gly posi­ti­ve. From the begin­ning, my aim was to focus on emo­ti­on, moti­va­ti­on and pas­si­on, and I think tho­se were the aspects that were most inte­re­sting to the audi­ence. The disci­pli­ne and sen­se of respon­si­bi­li­ty ama­teur ath­le­tes have to demon­stra­te impres­ses peop­le, too, and tho­se cha­rac­te­ri­stics are gene­ral­ly stron­gly asso­cia­ted with the athlete’s mind­set. I real­ly enjoy­ed inter­ac­ting with peop­le from dif­fe­rent cul­tures and teams as well.

You have also worked with Sun­ri­se UPC on ways of working. What did that invol­ve? What could you draw on from your past expe­ri­ence and share with the mana­gers and employees? And what did you enjoy most?

At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to con­vey my deep pas­si­on for sport effec­tively in Eng­lish. Luck­i­ly, it all went real­ly well. During that ses­si­on, I tried to focus on dif­fe­rent aspects of team sports, sin­ce all employees work as part of a team in one way or ano­t­her, whe­ther it’s with col­leagues, custo­mers, sup­pliers, or wha­te­ver. I tried to exp­lain that every indi­vi­du­al has their own way of working, thin­king, and get­ting things done, and that’s the way it should be. At the same time, though, the­re has to be a cer­tain level of trust wit­hin a team for it to be suc­cess­ful. You know a team is built on trust when every indi­vi­du­al belie­ves that every sin­gle per­son in that team is pul­ling their weight and giving their all. That belief boosts your moti­va­ti­on as an indi­vi­du­al. I have no doubt about that, and I’ve come across so many examp­les that have pro­ved it.

Did you enjoy the inspi­ra­tio­nal speech you gave to the Seni­or Direc­tor Enter­tain­ment team at Sun­ri­se UPC? How did you pre­pa­re for it? Was it easy to com­mu­ni­ca­te with Sun­ri­se UPC? Did you feel you could approach them with any que­sti­ons that came up?

I never had any pro­blems with the rela­ti­ons­hip with Sun­ri­se UPC GmbH. I felt com­ple­te­ly com­for­ta­ble asking que­sti­ons, and I always recei­ved a reply in no time at all. The staff working at the com­pa­ny were always so posi­ti­ve and enthu­sia­stic, which made ever­ything so much easier for me. When I was pre­pa­ring my spee­ches, I made sure to inclu­de the things that peop­le said they had found most inte­re­sting in the pre­vious ones. I also expan­ded the con­tent to cover some more ground, like the set­backs I suf­fe­red and the stra­te­gies I used to over­co­me them. And ano­t­her thing I should men­ti­on is that a short video clip of high­lights from the World Cham­pions­hip semi-finals in Switz­er­land in 2019 went down very well. We won that game 7–6, despi­te being 6–1 down at one point. It was just fur­ther pro­of that peop­le love that depth of emo­ti­on that you only find in the world of sport. The video was a good ice-brea­ker, becau­se lots of the peop­le the­re could remem­ber the ‘Mira­cle of Neu­châ­tel’, as it beca­me known.

How was the event with the exe­cu­ti­ve board at OBT? What did you take away from it? And what did you enjoy most about it?

The event with the various mem­bers of the manage­ment team broa­den­ed my hori­zons, becau­se the­re were a lot of peop­le at that ses­si­on who worked for an orga­ni­sa­ti­on that pro­bab­ly isn’t qui­te as dyna­mic and ‘sta­te of the art’ as Sun­ri­se UPC GmbH. Now, I don’t mean that to be dis­re­spect­ful at all: qui­te the oppo­si­te – it was abso­lute­ly fasci­na­ting to talk to peop­le from a com­pa­ny that has been ope­ra­ting suc­cess­ful­ly for deca­des. For examp­le, the­re was a much more cri­ti­cal atti­tu­de towards fle­xi­ble working hours and working from home. The dis­cus­sion during the ses­si­on was very lively, and I real­ly loved it. It made me look at things from a dif­fe­rent angle.