How I found my way back to Conti, and am so happy about it –
It started in the winter of 2020, I was feeling a bit confused with my career path and was not sure what direction I should grow in. I had been given many opportunities for growth in Conti and had capitalized on all of them. I felt at times that my compensation and position in the company had not kept up to pace with my own personal development and contribution so I was engaging with my manager, Jeferson Valerio, about what my future could look like and what opportunities might come my way. Shortly after we started to make a plan, COVID happened… and most of those discussions went on hold as we all tried to grapple with our uncertain future.
Sometime near March a decision was taken for the team in NA, that we would receive a 20% pay cut for a short period of time as we tried to survive the initial financial impact of COVID. Not knowing when this would end and knowing that I would struggle to pay my bills with the pay cut, I began looking for other opportunities. Coincidentally I was approached by a new startup company in Boston that was looking for consultants. In a short time, I had signed a contract with them that I would work for 8 hours per week as a consultant and the compensation offset my pay cut from Conti. I decided to take my PTO every Friday for a few months so that I could easily work these 8 hours for the contracting role. As I was approaching the end of my PTO budget, I engaged the new company and asked if they would bring me on full time. I essentially made it an all or nothing” proposal. With this pressure, they offered me a full-time role. And in the summer of 2020 I left ContiTech.
The decision was very hard for me to make. I knew I was leaving behind great benefits, a good culture and a wonderful team. But at the time the financial success of the company was uncertain, I could not sustain the 20% pay cut and I was being given a really exciting opportunity to try something completely new that was well aligned with some of my personal goals and interests.
The company also offered me a higher salary which was exciting and gave me a title that felt like it was more appropriate for my experience. But even during the initial negotiation phase, I ignored some red flags that turned in learning opportunities and I definitely found that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
About 6 months into the new job I reached back out to my old boss Jeferson at ContiTech. I had heard there was some new re-structuring going on and I was curious to know what was happening. I also wanted to pick his brain on a few business topics related to my new job. It was at that time that I encountered my first lessons – the leadership quality and professionalism at ContiTech is top notch. Even though I did not work with Jeferson anymore, he was very open to talking with me and coaching me, and even asked some questions of me to get thoughts on the direction they were going at ContiTech. In the 6 months I had been with the new company, I did not have this type of conversation once with the leadership team there. By about 9 months into the new opportunity, I hit a real blocking point, I was starting to feel pressured into working longer hours and weekends, to secure my role with the company. I attended many events and was away from my family a lot. So even though it was fun in some ways, like travelling and working with bikes, it just really was not a good fit for my life.
I was also being asked to do things that were against my business ethics more and more often. I started to realize that the “honeymoon phase” of the new opportunity was wearing out and that the higher salary, better title and more exciting industry on paper – was not worth the lack of trust and safety I felt with the new company… it was time to try and change again.
Fortunately, I had been in regular conversations with ContiTech the entire time. I had spoken with the old head of Business many times, had continued to talk with Jeferson and even spoke with the new Head of Business. Everyone was professional, and interested and open to having nice dialogue. I finally worked up the courage to ask if they might have me back and was pleasantly surprised that everyone was very open and excited to the idea. After a few months of discussing opportunities and roles and where I would be a best fit, I was happily signing an offer to return to the team. I felt like the management team really fought hard for me and had somewhat of a “hero’s welcome” when I returned. It really felt like I was home….
Within the first month I was already right back at it. Fully living the values of the company, feeling engaged and safe in my position. Feeling supported by my superiors and team. No longer being asked to cross my own business ethics boundaries and instead finding that my leaders really encouraged healthy boundaries and work – life balance. In a short time I noticed my daily level of stress dropped, my routines changed, I started to do things to benefit my health, started enjoying evenings and weekends again. Shortly after I returned, I was given the opportunity to take 4 weeks off to be with my family when my new son Conrad was born. I am very grateful that I got to spend this special time with my family – free from any stress at work.
ContiTech did agree to match the higher salary the other position had offered which was even better, because when paired with the excellent benefits package at Conti, I was finally able to really start making a better life for myself and my family.
It’s been nearly 11 months since I have been back and I can confidently say that I am in it for the long haul. I believe in the core values of ContiTech, I believe in trying to develop products to support sustainability solutions with customers and I feel that ContiTech believes in me.