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      August 19, 2022

      How my experiences abroad guided me back to Conti

      I grew up a in a small town near Frankfurt, a place with its own unique culture. From a young age, I got the chance to travel a lot with my family and experience different countries and cultures. This naturally influenced my studies, so I took the decision to conduct one semester abroad during my bachelor’s Business Administration program. Driven by wanderlust, I enrolled myself in a “free mover” semester at the Shanghai Tongji University, a self-organized semester abroad without any cooperation between the two universities. I spent a great time there and after 6 months went by, I swore to myself that it would not be the last experience abroad.

      Traveling is always fun, especially when you get to see new things, but it also taught me to adapt certain behaviors and inspired new ways of thinking. If the semester abroad was good for one thing, except getting credit points for finishing my studies of course, it was the personal development and the hunger for challenges - Living in a city among 24 million people taught me many life lessons.

      So, when the time came to choose a master’s program, I knew that I wanted to take the opportunity to experience something new. This time, I decided for a stay at least partially in an English-speaking country and chose a master that allowed me study in Munich as well as in Edinburgh via a double-degree program.

      During my master studies, I also started to look for job opportunities that allowed me to learn more about the professional life that awaited me after my thesis. After some working student jobs, my brother convinced me to apply for a position at Continental as his friends told him it was a great place to work.

      My Way to Continental

      That’s when my journey with Continental started. Having learned from my experiences abroad, I wanted to face this new chapter in my life with being open-minded and keeping the desire for new challenges. In a 6 months internship, I was hired as an intern for Controlling & Market Planning for Trucks in  the Smart Mobility business area. I quickly grew close to the team and was impressed by the company’s values that really seeped into my everyday life. Especially the Mantra “for one another” was a value that became the basis of everything I did.

      Shortly after the internship, I was given the opportunity to continue in this team with a permanent contract, as Markets & Strategy Manager for Commercial & Off-Highway vehicles. For 5 years I took care of the worldwide market volume & value forecasting, coordination of annual customer strategy meetings for key customers and other things in this market.

      I loved my job but felt like it was time for a change in 2019. Also, I wanted to see more sections within the company and eventually switched to ContiTech Group Sector as Executive Assistant to Hans-Juergen Duensing. This new opportunity made me move to Hanover, which I was super excited about.

      I quickly felt settled and connected with my colleagues on the weekdays while driving back to Frankfurt to my partner on weekends. While I managed to build great new friendships, I still lived in two “in-between” flats with no real private home base. It slowly became more and more difficult to combine both work and private life although I felt home within the company and had the best job imaginable. Therefore, I planned to return to Frankfurt after a maximum of three years in the role.

      In the mid of 2021,I started the internal job hunt. However, the global Covid pandemic had clearly left a lasting impact in the labour market as it heavily influenced the economy around the world. There were no suitable positions available at that time at ContiTech in or around Frankfurt that sparked my interest. Out of curiosity, I also started to look for jobs outside of Continental.

      New Job Outside of Continental - 2021

      As a jobseeker my attitude towards new things helped me to quickly find a new path: I was hired by a known consulting company shortly after. Although the goodbye wasn’t an easy one, I had great expectations for my new role that started earlier this year.

      Changing sides from an industrial company to a service provider that is also anchored in the automotive industry was very insightful. I experienced a very different corporate culture and way of working at the consultancy and among the customers that I consulted.

      In addition, I learned very quickly what was most important to me in working life. The value that I cherished most at Conti and that I adopted in my way of working: “for one another”. It didn’t rate as high in the new environment as at Continental, which strikingly hit me at some point. On the contrary, it seemed like it was the opposite in the new firm. This very abruptly ended my honey-moon phase in the new environment and made me question the decision to leave Continental.

      Returning home

      I reflected and exchanged this experience with former Conti colleagues and very luckily was offered to return to Conti soon after in a very interesting position in Sales for our ADAS portfolio. The new position gave me the chance to combine both, the personal home base in Frankfurt and the professional home base at Continental. For me, someone who had always longed for the far and unknown, it felt like coming home.

      While one might think that the step out of Continental was a mistake, I experienced it as a very valuable lesson with major learnings. The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. A large part of what makes working at Conti fun and enjoyable is not necessarily the same in other companies. For me, it really comes together with the four basics

      1. “For one another”: Helpful, open-minded colleagues that are always willing to support in case of questions
      2. “Freedom to act”: The possibility to look for challenges and create impact besides the job description
      3. “Trust”: In skills and results from oneself to create impact
      4. “Passion to win”: Push towards common goals and success together with the Conti community, across functions and areas

      This experience outside of Conti truly taught me that before considering a new path, it’s always wise to consider what’s good on your current one before you rush to change directions.

      Fabian Krämer

      Global Sales Manager - Daimler Trucks