Within the eXplore Tires Trainee Program I got to travel the world, meet friends that I will keep for a lifetime and experience new cultures through my love for controlling. I learnt that exponential growth can only be tapped into through being in uncomfortable spaces & it is only through purpose filled encounters that you can truly leave a lasting impact
I am Onele Dyonase and originally from Stutterheim (Cumakala), South Africa. I hold a degree in Cost and Management Accounting from the Nelson Mandela University. I am currently in South Carolina, United States, working in our Sumter Tire Manufacturing Plant.
My journey with Continental started in Continental Tyre South Africa in Port Elizabeth (PE). I started as a Finance GIT in 2016 and when I was interviewed for that position, I made it clear that I was interested in the cost and management side of accounting. My aim was to get in the door and work towards what I wanted to do with my career. I stayed in the GIT role for 3 months and got moved to a permanent position as a Foreign creditors clerk. I stayed in that position for about a year and a half and within the talent management conference I was able to finally do what I intended to do from the start. There is a section in the employee dialog that asked what my career aspirations were and I had put one sentence there that said “ I want to be Plant Controller in 7 years” , for someone reading this, I must have sounded a little crazy because I was not even in controlling at the time. Our plant controller saw this and started a conversation with central that ended with me sending my CV and documents, an interview with the EMEA Controller who had travelled for a plant operations review to the PE plant and an acceptance into the Manufacturing controlling trainee program for the 2018 March Pool.
The trainee program was a steppingstone into a world of possibilities, I got to meet people from all over the world, work on cross functional projects that exposed me to the complex nature of our business and how everything somehow interlocks. I was able to gain a wide variety of knowledge and a network that proves to be valuable when wanting to benchmark processes, talk through challenges or new topics and experiences or sometimes even to just catch up on what’s happening in our lives. It can be a 2, 6- or 12-hour time difference between myself and Conti friends but we always manage to keep in touch. There is never a dull moment in a diverse working environment, opinions will always differ because we all come from different points of reference, whether its culture or country or experience. It takes more groundwork to get a diverse team working as a symphony, but it always yields a better result.
It was challenging to move to Germany for the central stay but having a group of trainees that were going through a similar experience made it easier. Living in a country that is not your own is always exciting but there is no place like home, so I did get home sick but found a way to handle it when it crept up and still do by intentionally doing things that make me happy. I moved to the USA in September 2018 for my 2nd plant stay and ended up staying for my 2-year assignment which would have ended the 3 and a half year manufacturing controlling trainee experience. However, I got the opportunity to extend my contract for 2 more years and in a new role of controlling team lead.
I am grateful for the experiences thus far with Conti. It has successfully made the world a little smaller than it really is, and my growth has been exponential on a personal and professional level. I am a different Onele than I was at 23 when I joined the company versus the 28-year-old, I am today.
Switching from South Africa to Germany then United states is an extreme change, it has shown me that we are fundamentally the same as human beings, but we are sometimes hurtful to each other because we fear the unknown. I believe that everything happens for a reason and hope to one day inspire young people to go after their dreams and be intentional in their actions to reach them. My parting words with you are to keep living in the light, be kind to people because you never know what they are going through, hard work and consistency has never killed anybody and remember, the world is your Oyster.
This blog was written by our employee.