This post is also available in: Romanian
In Continental, the days are running on fast-forward. Things happen, projects and ideas come true in the seasons of Transformation, along with this world that simply doesn’t stand still. Yet somewhere between the coffee in the canteen and the business trips in places with names hard to spell, there is the comfort zone. This is concept that some of our colleagues have chosen to reset, following careers that often vanish the borders of the maps they run through their business trips.
Having a coffee in our canteen – my comfort zone – I’ve heard some great travel stories told by my colleagues from the Supplier Quality Management Department. They are the ones who spend a lot of time in the plants of our suppliers, all over the world. Cosmina Cârstea and Ioana Estera joined the Continental team 7 and 3 years ago, breaking cultural barriers by travelling 70 days per year on average.
For them, “home” is the whole Europe, which they travel, crossing airports myriad times and dwelling the interculturality live. This is a sparkling, win-win exchange. Estera smiles when she tells me that she’s always ready for a new business trip: “I always have my luggage ready, including some business threads already packed, since sometimes the need to travel comes on short term.” Of course, it’s not easy to just drop everything and hit the road but “the reward, nevertheless, comes by all the scores of the projects that chase us around the world. Also, through the French croissants we shovel on the way or the Italian shoes or by the German Christmas fairs we cross now and then. Not to mention the Czech hand-crafted beer which I thought it has 13 oC when I tried it and I called home to brag. Later on, I found out this was the rating, but this is another story.”
Cosmina laughs in real earnest, recalling her first trip to China. She became a specialist when it comes to choosing aircrafts and she strongly feels it’s not the same if she flies with a Boeing, an Airbus or a propeller plane. She is happy to recall her trip to Nanjing (China), where she kept a strict vegetarian diet to avoid any risk of feast with insects’ dishes, especially since she is suffering from entomophobia. No wonder she didn’t try such dainties! Still, she kept alive the contact with other aspects of the Chinese cultures. These differences made her more curious. The discipline, the harshness and the diligence of the people had a strong impression on her. “Although you don’t really have time to visit places, you get to learn a lot from the novelty of each cultural contact” she says, rushing towards the meeting room. Tomorrow she is heading off to France and she needs to recheck the luggage which stands near her door. I am thinking about George Clooney in ‘Up in the Air’ and I wonder if she knows any travel tricks, after so many trips. “The travelling hasn’t brought any specific habit but when I buy cosmetics, I do check the quantities – somehow, I just need to know if I can take them by plane. Oh! And of course – my daily allowance is always wasted on sweets and souvenirs.”
Talking about comfort – Razvan Man has a nostalgic smile on his face, recalling the business trip to Tunisia back, in 2015. He is part of the Supplier Quality Management Team for 5 years already, while the challenges didn’t lack and he very much enjoys that. In summer 2015, in the Tunisian metropolis there was the Bomb attack from the History Museum. Razvan was about to travel right after, for a process audit to one of our suppliers. “We had the option to decline this trip but after some discussions with all the members involved in the audit, I decided to go. Especially since, after such an incident, the security is higher so it’s the safest moment you can travel” he said. He has been permanently escorted and he was firmly explained that he is not allowed to walk out of the hotel amenities without being accompanied. He complied, therefore he came back safe. Four weeks later, he was astonished to find out about a new attack, a few blocks near the hotel he had been booked during his last trip.
I asked Razvan why he went to business trip given the facts. He brightly answered that “the risk is not so high. Why would I lose opportunities in my projects on what ifs?”
In Continental, Home has a different meaning for the ones who spend an important amount of time tricking the fear of unknown in exchange for new experiences that keep the spirits high. When asked about the inconveniences of this life style, Estera tells me how interesting it is to live as such and she simply fails to the range of observations I had expected to hear. “It’s so dynamic. And interesting! You just never get bored and you continuously learn new things and get to know new people, with all the value and the gaps they bring along.”