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      January 06, 2023

      How Hockey helped me find my career path – Insights from the DRIVE Graduate Program

      Back in 2018, I studied Business Administration and Engineering in Aachen. During Christmas time, as always, I was coming back to my hometown close to Stuttgart to meet my friends at the hockey club for a gathering. There I started chatting to one of my teammates who had just graduated from his Masters. When I asked him about the next steps in his professional career, he told me that he just started the Continental DRIVE Automotive Graduate Program. Since I was quite interested in this area, he shared more details with me about his experience during the application period, the hiring process and his first weeks in his team. His insights made me curious, so I added this to my mental notes for future job opportunities…

      Since you are reading this, you know how this went. I applied for the program in spring 2019, went through the different phases of the application process, which included an online test, a phone interview, an assessment center and an in-person interview. After the successful completion I was convinced that Continental was the right partner to kick off my professional career with. Besides the unique job profile, my key decision factors were the openness and proactivity of my hiring line manager, from whom I felt that he was the right mentor for my career.


      In my first assignment I was working in pre-development, where all kinds of topics regarding the early innovation phase are tackled. My responsibility was an independent and overarching project to challenge the existing structures and approaches. I was positively surprised about how supportive all colleagues were for this topic. Thanks to this wide support of my colleagues, I gained attention of our CTO, who then invited me to present the project to him and his directs to further detail the progress.

      My second highlight, and for me personally the most impressive one, was my expatriate to Singapore. During COVID I received the opportunity to work for 8 months in our Singaporean R&D location, where I learned a lot about the multi-cultural collaborations in East Asia. This complemented the experiences I made during my studies in Korea and China. I learned that studying and working abroad are two completely different topics. For example, I was used to work for German companies, being in Germany close to their headquarters. Now, I got first-hand experience of working in a location with a very different time zone, and thus in shifting the working hours in favor to the Central European Time, if needed. While this could be a challenging aspect from time to time, it was priceless to see how closely the team bonds Singapore and how easily that bond got extended to me. Since I stayed there for 8 months without any chance to leave the country due to the pandemic, I know the city by heart. And I made a lot of local friends, whom I am luckily to be still in touch with and even meet from time to time. You don't believe me? Feel free to ask David Woon, our head of the Continental-NTU Corporate Lab in Singapore! He's also my table-tennis partner of choice and recently, we just played some exciting games when he was in Frankfurt!

      The third highlight is the overall benefit from the network that I gained. During my first assignment I met one of the heads of the business area of Autonomous Mobility. He motivated me to do a cross move to the business area. With his support, and the great backing of my hiring line manager, I became part of the core team of the business area’s organizational transformation.

      All these highlights of the DRIVE program where necessary milestones that guided me towards my current position, which is exactly what I was aiming to achieve after the program: Executive Assistant to the Business Area Head of Autonomous Mobility. In my current role, I gain and depict a holistic picture of the business area, which helps the whole team to tackle, track and trace all the actions needed to drive ourselves as a company forward.


      Having the chance to work for and with different supervisors, the program offers a wide range of learnings. These are my key takeaways I would like to share:

      • Be transparent: include your colleagues in your projects. Inform and most of all engage with them. Give them the chance to support you by inviting them proactively. Everybody has a strength that he or she is happy to support you with.
      • Drive your growth: you are the one who should take care of your progress. Know where you want to go, ask for support and guidance, and clearly communicate your ambitions.
      • Never stop asking questions: always being “the now one” in a department is not a challenge, but a chance. Having a new perspective helps your new colleagues to question and improve incumbent structures. Use this chance wisely and don’t waste it. Then please, keep using this mindset!

      The best in a few words

      Clearly, the best thing about the program was the chance to set up a great network within Continental to boost my career. I made friends and colleagues in different business areas, to exchange about various topics. This helps me to not only understand the company better, but also to learn from others’ experiences and skills and to ultimately grow even faster, and further.

      Patrick Oliver Giel

      Executive Assistant to Head of Autonomous Mobility