Matt Livigni wasn’t sure what to do. It was 1988 and he was about to graduate from high school, but didn’t have money for college. Three decades later, he has multiple degrees and is Managing Director of Continental’s Tire Division in Canada. This is a story of true career mobility.
I started in the mailroom in Akron, Ohio, straight out of high school with nothing but the shirt on my back and big dreams for a better life ahead.
One of my aunts worked there and told me about the job. I knew they had a tuition reimbursement program. After a couple years, I moved up into sales. I still didn’t have a college degree, but they gave me the opportunity with one caveat – that I complete my degree.
I moved from Akron to Cincinnati for the sales role. After a year, I took a bigger sales role in Lexington, KY, for passenger and light truck tires. I did that for a couple years, then had an opportunity for an even bigger role on the passenger and light truck side in Greensboro, N.C. I was there for a couple of years and was the No. 1 sales rep in the country.
I left the company in 1996 to work with one of Continental’s dealers.
I was with the dealer for three years and gained some great experience; however, due to a sale and acquisition of the company, I decided to come back to Continental in 1999 for a sales position in Dallas. A previous boss hired me back.
By the way, I still had not finished my degree. It was just too difficult as a traveling salesperson.
While I was in Dallas, my manager told me they thought I could do more – but said I really needed to finish my degree and that he wanted to give me an opportunity to do it. So, in 2001, I moved into a position in Charlotte, N.C., where I could work in the office during the day and attend school in the evening.
I graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Montreat College, then went back into the field as key account manager.
I was eventually promoted to regional manager. I also gained experience on the marketing and global pricing teams, and even spent a lot of time in Germany developing my skills. Continental was looking for an international assignment for me when the Canadian truck manager position became available in 2013.
So, I moved to Canada. Three years later, in 2016, the managing director role for the Canadian Tire business became available. I was promoted and I’ve been in this role ever since then. I have six direct reports and lead a team of 60 people across the country.
When I think back, the thing I remember most are the people who cared enough to help me develop.
I was in the Continental Executive Development program. I spent time in Germany, at Duke University in North Carolina, and at a college in England. Things that I learned in the program about leadership are skills I still use today – even in my personal life.
I really align with Continental’s company values.
I’m very passionate. I love the freedom to act. The trust that comes with that. Continental invests a lot in developing our people and helping them stretch beyond their comfort level. If I were to give one piece of advice to someone who’s starting out like I did, the best way to be is who you were created to be. Just be who you are. That’s what will allow you to succeed.
This article was written by our employee