Hi, my name is Apoorva Ashok. I have been part of Continental for more than one and a half years and work in the Software Engineering team for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) in Bangalore, India. As a Software Engineer I develop software based solutions for vehicle interfaces.
Next to working together with my colleagues on software innovations, I appreciate the different initiatives offered by Continental. In July, I took part in the India Women Excellence Day – a female talent event with more than 150 women from Continental’s locations and departments in India. Additionally to my colleagues from Software Engineering, also participants from HR, Finance, and Purchasing for instance were present. That created a lot of diversity within the crowd of female employees.
During the opening speech, our Managing Director and Head of HR emphasized on the need for women to grab the opportunity rather than wait for someone to hand it to them. Furtheremore, she highlighted the importance of staying yourself. They also noted the miniscule percentage of women in Continental leadership and spoke optimistically about increasing the percentage. This set the stage for the events of the day which was categorized into three segments: WHAT, WHY and HOW.
The first session of the day was held by a female CEO of a successful Indian company. She chose to answer questions from the audience for the entire duration allotted to her and it was a very engaging session. Drawing from personal experience, she focused on the importance of recognizing “sponsors” (different from mentors) in our lives. She spoke at length about how women can help each other grow in the workplace and also about her motivation for work. After her session, we reflected for ourselves on what makes us want to wake up every morning and what our personal drivers are.
The second session of the day was a panel discussion with five members from the India management team. They discussed how gender diversity was being achieved in their teams. Some of the measures they outlined were the inclusion of women in every interview for a leading position that opened up. They highlighted how diversity in the team leads to more innovation. Overall, it was an informative discussion, with a refreshing new perspective on women in management positions.
The sessions after the lunch break were focused on leadership development. The introduction held a surprise for us as many were under the impression that there are only two ways available for growth in an organization. However, Continental gives three different routes for growth by striving to become an expert, project leader, or manager.
The final talk of the day involved one colleague, who is a managing director at our plant in India. She took us through her amazing career journey, where she shared with us her experience of moving from HR to business related jobs. Thereby, she elaborated on the associated hurdles of dealing with promotions at a young age and how to have a healthy work life balance. Her journey is truly inspiring! Afterwards, we had another self-reflection session to analyze how we want to achieve our desired career aspirations.
Did this day live up to expectations? Definitely! Each session awakened some thoughts within me which were leading to a logical progression. I felt that the concept of making the participants pen down their thoughts during the self-reflection is a powerful tool. For me, it also helped to acknowledge once more the importance of goal setting and to keep me motivated. It delivered on all promises made and was truly a remarkable day.