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Introduction

My name is Tobias Trapp and I am an SAP Mentor. I am working as software and enterprise architect in the statuory health insurance in Germany together with my colleague and fellow SAP Mentor Thorsten Franz who also blogged forward to me. Some people wonder why AOK which is a relatively small company has two SAP Mentors but the answer is very simple – we are building a industry solution on top of SAP for Insurance and SAP NetWeaver and we have huge challenges: big data, most processes are automated, our product has to be flexible because of frequent health care reforms and we topics like mobile / telematics in health care are coming. We had to learn how SAP products work, what their strengths are, how to integrate them and how to build add-ons and new solutions on top of them.

Fun (?) facts about my hometown

I live in Mainz, Germany, which is the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate. Since 2008 Mainz and the surrounding region Rhenish Hesse are members of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network besides Bilbao, Bordeaux, Florence, Capetown, Mendozy (Melbourne), Porto and San Francisco.

If you are interested in Roman history you will love Mainz because you can find ruins of there are buildings everywhere: The Drusus Stone – the (empty) graveyard of the brilliant military commander Drusus Germanicus, the ruins if the aqueduct, the Column of Jupiter, the Roman Gate and the Roman Theatre. Drusus smashed Germanic people successfully and the legend tells us that a female druid told him not to cross the river Elbe because he would die. In fact he fell from a horse and died afterwards.

I like most the sacred Site of Isis and Mater Magna which was discovered in the course of the construction of a shopping mall and can now be visited in its basement. If you are in Mainz you should definitely visit the little but beautiful exhibition.

I read that the 1000 year old Mainz Cathedral possesses eggs and feathers of the Holy Spirit as relic but it’s not presented to the public.

Mainz had the earliest republic in the German state and the ethnologist, travel writer and revolutionary Georg Forster played a leading role in 1792.  I read his travel writings “Reise um die Welt” which is impressive because of his sensitivity to other cultures and is a superb example for the spirit of enlightenment.

800px-Mainz_aerial_photograph.jpg
Mainz and the districts right of river rhine.

Thorstens’s Questions

1.   What is the best you can teach others, or share with others?

I learned that I need a very wide variety of interests for a happy life. I need intellectual inspiration, challenges at work, cultural activities and physical exercise to stay healthy. I think being too one-sided has negative effects for most people. That’s why I want to inspire my friends and sometimes I surprise them with unusual ideas, experimental dishes and so on. So if some of my friends need some new and unconventional ideas or inspiration, I hope I can share it.

2.   Suppose you won $500,000,000 in the lottery. Let’s allow for two years of reckless spending and fulfilling yourself some dreams – after that initial phase is over, what do you want to be and do?

I don’t think I’m smart enough to answer that question – so of course I would ask Marilyn Pratthow to spend the money. Perhaps she would encourage me to establish a foundation where young can people explain me their projects and visions and if they convince my I’ll give them support.

3.   Marilyn’s question: Describe an instance when empathy in a project, development, collaboration, work experience, or community interaction turned a situation around (or should have).

I will tell you a story from my private life: Some years ago I practiced ballroom dance and my dance partner and I have been highly ambitious. We wanted to be excellent and unfortunately always fought who’s right and who was wrong. In fact a good friendship ended because of our massive egos and in fact we didn’t talk to each other for years. And this is what I learned from it: ambition and will to excellence need empathy – otherwise frustration about failures and errors will occur. And failures will occur if you leave your zone of comfort and routine activities. My conclusion is: empathy and striving for excellence should go hand in hand.

What affected your career most?

I worked for a renowned German software house which got in trouble after the crisis starting with 9/11 – in fact this was not the only reason because they made some severe mistakes in business before. 15 days before my probationary period was over they fired all new entrants and so I was unemployed for 15 minutes. At this time I was working at AOK Systems as external consultant and when a manager heard about it he hired me instantly. When I think about it afterwards this seemed to have a psychological effect on my career because I didn’t like this situation and so I decided to become an expert with lots of possibilities in the job market.

In the end it was the right decision because I was now able to take influence on long term strategies and could learn from the consequences: what went right and what could still be improved. For me working as external consultant is a little unsatisfactory because in most cases you will not learn about the results/consequences of your activities because after a project is over usually you will work for a new customer.

What did you learn at university?

When I studied maths I learned about at my mediocrity. When I started maths at university of Hamburg I was one of the best students. I moved to Bonn which has famous mathematical researchers and I learned very quickly that I my mathematical skills and talents are only about average although I completed a very good exam in the end. When I first joined a seminar with 70% Chinese students as participants I learned that I doesn’t matter that you are good in a relatively small city like Hamburg if you have to compete with the best students of a Chinese province. So if you want to achieve excellence you have to raise the bar to an international level.

At university I learned a lot about mathematical optimization and Operations Research and I am convinced that we can make enterprise resource planning smarter. I hope I can prove it in future projects.

Blogging It Forward

I would like to forward this blog to Roel van den Berge, Daniel Koller and Hendrik Neumann which are highly talented memebers of the SAP community. I would like to ask them the following questions:

  1. If you were 20 again, what would you study?
  2. What gives you inspiration for your professional live?
  3. Marilyn’s question: Describe an instance when empathy in a project, development, collaboration, work experience, or community interaction turned a situation around (or should have).

Finally

Please follow the Blog It Forward Chainin order to be updated when Daniel, Hendrik and Roel and other members of the community blog it forward. Also, please join the fun (see the original blog on how to do it)!

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5 Comments

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  1. Tammy Powlas

    Tobias,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this.  I learned so much about you and your hometown of Mainz.

    I am always amazed at the great work both you and Thorsten do at AOK.  You are both trailblazers for sure.

    Are you speaking with that dance partner now?

    Regards,

    Tammy

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    1. Tobias Trapp Post author

      Hi Tammy,

      I’m glad you liked this little blog.

      But to your question: well, I think it took 5 years and finally we started to talk to each other and now we are good friends. But ballroom dance was so traumatic that I never did a pair dance after that experience and started Flamenco that you are doing on your own.

      In fact there was one exception to this rule: I was a guest at a marriage party and the bride wanted to perform a Waltz with her husband. She chose “Nothing else matters” by Metallica which is a something like a Waltz but I found it a little bit difficult. The music started and everyone looked at the couple but the husband didn’t know how to begin and so the bride started to cry. So I asked another random guest whether we should dance and I managed to do a little performace so that most people looked at me and I was on the wedding video instead of the crying bride. So there is one picture of me dancing waltz on the web in my old Flamenco blog: http://flamenco.blogger.de/stories/1213953/ As you can see my (random) partner is a little overstrained because she didn’t know anything about correct posture.

      I learned from this story that empathy is the key to successful to any successful relationship. And it is even necessary in stressful and exhausting activities like dancing or some IT projects.

      Cheers,

      Tobias

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      1. Tammy Powlas

        Such a great picture and story.  I read both blogs – about the wedding and your experiences (translated from German to English, of course)

        Thank you so much for sharing.  I started Zumba a few years ago, but then experienced a bad leg injury (not related to Zumba) so perhaps it’s time to get back to that.  Great fun and exercise too.

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  2. Susan Keohan

    Hi Tobias,

    This is a great blog, and in particular, I love your points about ’empathy and striving for excellence’ – a very poignant story.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Sue

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  3. Suseelan Hari

    Hi Tobias,

    Good Day!

    I saw the same place in some one’s blog. I think this river is very very famous! Nice blog and keep up the good work. I like the way you have presented. All the best for your future and career growth!

    Mind blowing Blog!

    Have a fantabulous day!

    Regards,

    Hari Suseelan

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