This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified)
I am Jihuai, the latest batch of APAC Trainee from China Market at the Tire Division. I finished my master’s degree of International Business in Canada in June 2018. After one-month gap, being a volunteer for Russia FIFA World Cup, I joined Continental China in August 2018 as Executive Assistant in Central Purchasing of Automotive Division. As you may notice, it is a relatively short time for a junior specialist to be cross moved to different division and function, which is a vivid example of Continental’s open culture to value talent. I would like to take this opportunity to share my small story with Continental.
To be honest, a commercial major was not very competitive for me as a fresh graduates to gain entrance to manufacturing industries, but with a strong passion to succeed in the manufacturing world, I still decide to join Continental. To be realistic regarding to my personal strength and weakness, I took the position as a personal assistant of Purchasing Head Asia, so that I gain a large scope to observe how colleagues take advantage of the procurement expertise and international horizon to deal with global sourcing. However, I soon realized that Continental, as an integrated group company, is doing business in both B2B and B2C models. There seemed to be a more suitable opportunity in Tire Division to utilize my academic knowledge and intern experience in retail market, tires industry. Therefore, with the kindly understanding and encouragement from my former supervisor, I applied the APAC Trainee Program open to both internal and external hiring channel. After the final round, a full-day assessment center with another 9 candidates, I got the only offer in China Market.
After the 3-year interval for the program adjustment, we kicked off the 6th batch APAC Trainee Pool in 2019, 4 team members from China, India and Malaysia markets. This is a one-year program that requires us to have 4 quarterly position or location rotation, including personal on-the-job learning and innovation projects as group. The biggest change compared with previous batches is that we would not have the opportunity to work together physically after a three-day program kick-off, which is very challenging for us to build the trust and manage the working efficiency as a virtual team for the whole year. Thanks to the reliable guidance from TMOD (Talenmanagement and Organisational Development), the difficulty and uncertainty at the beginning gradually transferred into our committed and transparent working style within the team. As individuals in our home markets, we are also encouraged by each other to take the initiative to participate in various sparetime activities organized by Continental. Personally, I took the opportunity to be the moderator of Chinese 2019 Annual Dinner Party, to be one of the directors and actors for a promotional music video of 2019 Shanghai Auto Show, to be the top prize winner of Continental Tennis Club, and a active member in football, basketball and badminton clubs.
At the time of writing this blog article, I am taking the third rotation in R&D Department in Malaysia. With the experience in previous two rotations, Product Management and Branding Communication in China, the planned last rotation, Sales, and the group projects related to India plant capacity expansion solution and Malaysia retail networking optimization, I have the confidence to build an overall understanding of our products and the linkages among functional departments, from product concept to manufacturing, to market launch, and to deal completion. One year is definitely not enough for a fresh graduate to build a fully independent understanding of a company‘s strategy and operation, but function rotation indeed helps me to make a practical plan for my career path and build networking in Continental. Different from the time with doubt if administration and purchasing functions fit me or not; now, I am confidently heading to the goal to be a marketing professional and, in the long term, a general manager of a market.