Knowing your strengths is a key factor for ensuring a successful professional life. Learn how professional champions discovered their talents.

“You’ll never amount to anything!” With these crushing words, a teacher simply wrote off one of their students 130 years ago. Back then, the student had failed to learn some vocabulary off by heart. But he remained eager for knowledge and spent his time trying out his talents. That’s how this “teacher’s terror” went on to become a physicist – one of the most important of all time: Albert Einstein.

There’s no such thing as an all-rounder

So what’s the moral of the story? Nobody can achieve top performances in every discipline. And if someone tries to do so, disappointment is inevitable. There will always be areas where others are better and where you never exceed average, despite all your efforts.

But that’s no reason to feel frustrated. Instead of regretting that you lack certain strengths, it’s better to search for and develop the strengths you do have. Like Einstein. That’s why he became a physicist and not a language teacher.

Discover your strengths, experience happiness

To discover your talents, you don’t have to “cram” for a long time or compete with others. That’s because SwissSkills and UBS have developed the “SwissSkills Mission Future” family box, a fun voyage of discovery to identify your strengths. In the first mission, participants learn about different strengths. In the second part, they discover their own strengths in a visual test and systematically share them with family and friends. The third part involves putting these strengths into practice in everyday life.

Young people who complete an apprenticeship in an environment that matches their individual strengths usually soon find that a lot of things are easy for them – and enjoy them all the more. Young Swiss professional champions have confirmed this in interviews.

Florian Nock

“Feedback helped me to discover my strengths”

Strategic thinking and skillful hands ave made Florian Nock a top carpenter.

Florian Nock (24) is a carpenter. He won gold at SwissSkills 2014, then silver at the 2016 European championships in Basel and at WorldSkills 2017 in Abu Dhabi. He is currently training to become a wood construction technician. He also often takes part in competitions as a gymnast.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
The teamwork and the visible progress of the work.

Which of your strengths can you bring to your job?
My strategic and practical approach. Being a carpenter is the perfect combination of intellectual work, manual skill and physical labor.

How did you discover your strengths?
It’s something that I found quite difficult before choosing my career. It helped to talk to my friends and listen to their feedback. Today, I'm able to recognize and develop my strengths even further through the different things I experience and encounter.

Were you surprised at all when you discovered your talents?
My talents were obvious early on. I quickly became enthusiastic about various ways of working with wood.

What professional future do you dream of?
At the moment I’m completing further training as a wood construction technician. After I obtain the qualification, I look forward to applying my knowledge to project work in a leading position and sharing it with employees.

Nicolas Ettlin

“Even as a toddler I used to sit in front of the computer”

His profession is his hobby. And web developer Nicolas Ettlin discovered early on that it would be perfect for him.

Nicolas Ettlin (18) is a web technology developer. At the WorldSkills competition in 2019, he won silver – as the youngest member of the Swiss team – before actually completing his apprenticeship. He is currently studying at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

What do you enjoy most about your work?
It’s always a magical moment when an application works for the first time – after you’ve spent hours programming and perfecting it.

Which of your strengths can you bring to your job?
Empathy is very important for software developers. If you’re creating tools that are going to be used by thousands of people every day, you have to be able to understand their needs.

How did you discover your strengths?
I carried out my first IT projects at home when I was little. It’s amazing what you can do with just one computer! I really liked the world of computers straight away, and I’ve remained true to it ever since.

Were you surprised at all when you discovered your talents?
Before I took part in professional championships for the first time, I could never have imagined what would happen to me afterwards! I enjoyed comparing myself with other apprentices in my country, and then all over the world.

What professional future do you dream of?
I want to develop projects that make a lot more things possible than is the case today.

Ramona Bolliger

“I’d like to run my own bakery one day”

She discovered her strengths thanks to “learning by doing.” This enabled Ramona Bolliger to become the world’s best baker and confectioner.

Ramona Bolliger (24) is a baker/confectioner and a trained cook. She won the gold medal at the WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi in 2017. She has been working as a baker at the “Panem” bakery in Madrid since the beginning of the year. From 2016 to 2019 she taught at the Richemont technical college as a baker and specialist teacher on training and further education courses.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love developing new creations. And I like to improve products if for some reason they don’t turn out exactly as they should. I’m fascinated by the fact that you have to look at the raw materials and the process to discover the cause of the problem. I also like the precise work. You can tell from the end product exactly how much passion has been put into it.

Which of your strengths can you bring to your job?
I’m a perfectionist. This helps me a lot in my work in the bakery/pastry shop and at competitions – even if it’s exhausting sometimes. Baking also requires a certain amount of flexibility and creativity in dealing with raw materials. I consider both to be among my strengths.

How did you discover your strengths?
I let my interests guide me in my choice of career. I learned a lot about my strengths when practicing for exams and professional competitions. You soon realize what you find easy or more difficult when you have to work under pressure. I’ve also simply worked on certain aspects to turn them into strengths – such as my working speed.

Were you surprised at all when you discovered your talents?
When I was a student, I had no idea what my thing was. So I simply did what I enjoyed most. And if you do that, most of the time it corresponds to your strengths.

What professional future do you dream of?
I don’t have any specific plans yet. About where I want to be in 10 years’ time, for example. At the moment, my main aim is to work in different bakeries/confectioneries in other countries to gain experience. Then I will certainly consider taking a professional exam – a specialization after my apprenticeship and initial professional experience. One of my dreams is to run my own bakery just the way I want it. But I’m taking my time about it.