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      April 27, 2021

      Celebrating My 5 years When Continental Turns 150

      “Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?” was the question asked to me during my student internship interview 5 years ago. Little did I know, in next 5 years my career would flourish by leaps and bounds. While Continental celebrates its 150th year, I am celebrating my 5 years with Continental

      On the 7th of April 2016, the first day of my internship, my heart raced anxiously when my boss introduced me as the new Indian Intern student in Continental Roding, to his colleagues. My learning curve as a student was exponential and in parallel, I could build a good professional network. After a short one-year stint in powertrain division I was employed as a Design engineer in tire division at Continental Runding.

      Subsequently, I was offered possibilities of taking over a Leadership role in Additive Manufacturing in Czech Republic. This role compelled me to expand my horizon beyond my existing scope of work, however this kept me wondering if I am suitable for this position of a Group leader of SLM technologies, as it was a new greenfield plant in Czech Republic. At that point of time my experience was limited in this area, nevertheless I had the passion to learn, ability to adapt and push myself beyond limits. I always believed that a person is limited only by the walls they built around themselves and I decided to take the leap into the new waters.

      I still remember the welcome I got from the colleagues in Czech Republic and support extended in daily business. Initial days were challenging due to culture, language barriers and regular confrontation with tiny hurdles. As days and weeks passed, the team got along smoothly, and we were able to set up the plant and begin operations as planned. Parallelly, I took part in the Conti Leadership Development Program which boosted my leadership abilities and came in handy managing tough situations and cruising through the plant set up project.

      Juggling new responsibilities and challenges takes a lot of energy and effort. Taking time to look after your mental and physical health is essential to perform well and get the most out of the career. Exercising reduced a lot of stress, improved my concentration and memory. I lost around 35 kgs of weight which positively elevated my routine and strongly boosted my confidence.

      What does it mean to be successful at work, to have a successful family and a successful life? Can we have it all?  Yes, believe me.

      Success cannot have a single definition alone. My girlfriend and I got married in 2018 and we cherish every moment that we are spending together till date. But initial days of marriage were not as I had thought it would be when I was single. Separating professional and personal life is where I had to shift my focus to. I realized life is not easy. It is full of compromises and one such compromise was staying away from my wife in another country respecting our professions. She is pursuing her PhD in the far north of Germany. This meant crossing Czech-German border was to become my new routine.

      Just when I thought I had mastered this new routine, the world presented us with another new challenge through Covid pandemic for which there weren’t any textbook solutions.

      Being in a production area, home office was always laughed about, nevertheless Continental stood strong by me and offered remote working solutions. Being in an answerable role, it was essential for me to be present at the Plant on need basis, crossing country borders. As I was mostly on the move, keeping my colleagues and my family safe from Covid was the biggest of all the challenges. Humorously my colleagues and I burst into laughter when I told them that one of my biggest achievements during pandemic was reaching a milestone of 100 Covid tests.

      All in all, these 5 years not only taught me to handle conflicts, pressure situations and achieve targets passing hurdles but also taught the skill set to adapt to personal life balance, problem solving in diverse environments and accountability. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience than what I have been through this exciting 5-year journey with 4 different bosses in 3 major locations of 2 European countries.

      The key message is there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

      Arun Kumar Gunnala

      Head of Additive Manufacturing

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