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      September 13, 2022

      The road of career development; how fighting the status quo will lead to new opportunities

      Careers are in motion; the route to the destination won’t always be clear but you can be sure to experience lane shifts and changes in direction along the way. Those shifts and changes are what make careers so exciting. New roles will offer different scenery and working enviornment, each change preparing you for the road ahead.

      For Ashton Elmore, his career journey has allowed him to support different functional areas at Continental. Ashton joined Continental in September 2012 at our newly established Sumter, South Carolina tire manufacturing facility as we were preparing for start of production. Today, he works with the production team as Senior Manager of Manufacturing Operations. Ashton shared some of the scenic routes he has seen along his Continental road trip so far.

      Please tell us how your career has developed over time:

      I came to Continental on September 17th, 2012 as the Training and Development Manager for the Sumter Passenger and Light Truck Tire plant. This was a really interesting phase because we were hiring and completing induction training for new employees to work in a tire plant that was still in the process of being built. During this time, I had the opportunity to travel to several plants and learn the manufacturing process / benchmark their training and certification processes.

      In 2015, I had the opportunity to transition into a Human Relations (HR) Business Partner role for Sumter which also created new challenges and opportunities to learn other aspects of HR with a very effective and experienced HR Manager, Roman Nosko. One of my favorite experiences during this time was in 2017, when our company began a project in Rayong, Thailand. I was blessed with the opportunity to spend several months in Rayong as a member of the HR project team to support the initial recruiting and other HR project functions.

      Later in 2018, I was privileged to succeed Roman as the Sumter Plant HR Manager when he transitioned to a Central HR role in Hannover, Germany. I was the HR Manager in Sumter through 2020 when I got the opportunity to transition to the production team as the Senior Manager of Manufacturing Operations in January 2021.

      Early in your career with Continental, were you aware of other career opportunities within the organization?

      Yes, what I was able to observe very quickly was that our corporate culture targeted development opportunities and viewed cross functional experience as a requirement for most senior positions. This was a clear sign that we appreciate different perspectives, reward good performance with new challenges, and ultimately desire multi-faceted leaders.

      How important is career development to you?

      It is critical. Without the development, mentors, feedback, and challenges I would be stagnate and quite frankly dissatisfied. In my opinion we all need opportunities for personal and professional growth to evolve and progress. That is why our company is still a world leader after 150 years.

      What best practices would you like to share from your personal career development journey?

      Very often you must push and challenge yourself with things that are outside of your comfort zone. It is easy to accept the status quo and stay in positions that feel secure, but this also delays or even negates your own growth.

      Did you have a mentor during your career progression and if so, did you find it beneficial?

      Yes, I have had several mentors both formal and informal and I found it to be very important for my own confidence and growth. Very often I’ve found myself at a crossroad on how to handle certain situations or with a blind spot that I needed to address, ultimately someone that will provide you feedback, advise, or even be a sounding board helped me become a better version of myself and ultimately a better leader.

      I would like to give a big thank you to both my past and present mentors! In my opinion, there is nothing I admire more than a person that has no personal incentive, who is willing to dedicate their time and effort to help you become a better version of yourself.

      What is the best piece of advice you can give someone who has started their career in one field of expertise who then decides to try another field?

      When that inner voice starts talking, listen to it. I have been in that situation; I knew I would be faced with new obstacles and unforeseen challenges but that I would never grow or make a bigger impact to the business if I wasn’t willing to bet on myself and make it happen.

      Ashton Elmore

      Senior Manager Manufacturing Operations