What Motivates a German Domino Administrator? Hint: It involves a Classic American Pastime.

Stefan Thier has wanted to be many things in his life — to be as confident and cool as a jet pilot named Maverick (the star in the movie Top Gun), as well as to be as nimble and creative as a professional chef. When asked where he gets his everyday inspiration, however, Stefan is quick to credit American football. He says playing the sport taught him confidence, but, most importantly, it taught him how to work effectively within a team when it comes to technology solutions.

“You learn very quickly in both situations that you can only truly reach any goal if you work as a team. Tough situations demand unbreakable teamwork. If you give up on the team, the solution will never be as strong.” Stefan was good enough at football to make it to the German Playoffs and honored in his hometown. The sport also taught him to break out of his shell and gave him confidence as he learned how to believe in himself.

While American football made Stefan understand the real meaning of teamwork, it’s his work as a Domino administrator that has really transformed his life — he now is part of the team that is responsible for the technology infrastructure at a large global company with 24/7 up-time required and offices all over the world.

A few years ago, Stefan faced an enormous challenge at work. The technical environment he inherited fell apart. This included 65 databases being lost, hardware crashing, outages, and applications and systems crumbling multiple times. He worked with others to help rebuild the Notes and Domino environment from the ground up and pulled through this difficult period only by working to solve it together with a strong team.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

What are you most proud of?

Solving the technology challenges a few years ago is what I’m most proud of. We worked together and completely restructured the company’s tech environment. Challenges like these help me develop as a person. I grew a lot by going through such upheaval. My company trusts and believes in me. This is something that is very valuable, and I want to return the appreciation.

How have you transformed as a person, over the course of your career?

I used to be very shy, didn’t believe in myself, and I wasn’t confident. Playing on an American football team changed all of that. I was forced to totally change how I play the game and figure out how to play as a team. I now carry that confidence — and teamwork — into the way I approach work.

What advice would you give your younger professional self?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, learn from them, and trust yourself.

What ways is technology changing, and how should we adapt?

A new generation is coming, which has different needs and works very differently. People today are very interested in mobile apps, modern design, and new technologies. Most are used to having tools and social collaboration in the palm of their hands. Technology solutions need to embrace both the past and future generations. Low-code solutions can also offer the possibility of simplifying how work gets done.

Why, exactly, is Domino so important and valuable? Why Domino? 

Domino provides a ton of flexibility and options. It’s easy to develop new applications, and it’s very reliable and stable. The future of Domino makes me hopeful that we can continue using it to create something really special.

Who are today’s unsung heroes?

The people who work really hard in the background making the community work — police, firemen, doctors, people who do foreign relief work. I admire those who are willing to put themselves out there to help make things better.