Sarah’s mission these days is clear: ensure every Continental employee in North America gets paid accurately and on time.
Our Head of Global People Services has led quite a variety of missions during her two decades at Continental, from Labor Relations Manager in a Tires facility to Head of Global Talent Management. But it was a particular mission in 2002 that cemented the foundation of her leadership skills – and affirmed that Continental is the place she belongs.
Why 2002 was an important time in my career.
I had these dual experiences in life. On one hand, I was working my young career at Continental in a tires manufacturing facility. It was the first time I’d officially managed people. But I was also working as an Army Reserve Officer in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., and my company was called up at the end of 2002 and well into 2003.
I led a detachment assigned to NATO peacekeeping. We ran post offices. Being responsible for 18 people as part of that was leadership in a completely different way, but I think it fast-tracked my understanding of people management and helped me apply it to Continental.
How Continental supported my deployment.
I was one of the first reservists I knew at Continental called to active duty in what became a wave. Prior to this, overseas deployment rarely happened. I wasn’t sure what to expect. There was nothing but support from everyone, though.
It’s interesting culturally, because in the American mindset there’s a tradition that reserve deployment happens sometimes. And there’s a baseline cultural understanding and value of voluntary service. We’re an international company, though, so I had colleagues with a very different cultural context about the military in general.
But they were wonderful – they were supportive of me and wanted to know what was going on in my life. Continental actually held my job for me, which was and still is not required. And groups within the company sent me goofy care packages, which meant so much.
There is a certain thoughtfulness across Continental that really revealed itself then, and that remains today. People are not just trying to succeed in business here, we are trying to take care of each other here. It’s how we behave towards one another in the moments that matter that makes the biggest difference.