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“Head of Strategy, Processes and Project Management IT Tires” – my job title is long. This does not necessary mean that people know what I do.

So, what’s my job about?

Strategy is an important ingredient for companies to reach goals. This is also true for IT. From my perspective, being responsible for the strategy does not mean that I work and decide on it on my own. Instead, it is my task to design a process in which my colleagues and I jointly develop our strategy and define the behaviors, activities, and initiatives. That allows us to prepare today to meet the goals and requirements of the future. I am based in Hanover, Germany, and work both with national and international colleagues. At present, we have placed an important focus on the topic of cultural change and alreadly defined key strategic areas for action. In those areas we have initiatives which we are driving this project forward.

Two main work areas in IT are project management and the operation of existing services. The responsibility for processes and project management does not mean that I manage all projects – that would not be possible with over 140 IT projects per year in the Tire Division. With my team we develop standards and framework conditions under which our colleagues can achieve qualitatively convincing results as efficiently as possible. On top of that, we support all project managers in their projects with a team of project coaches.

How did I get this job?

This is not my first job at Continental. As part of my information technology studies I did an internship at Continental and then wrote my master’s thesis there, too. This qualified me for my first job at Continental afterwards. I then held various positions managing both small and large international projects and with a team was responsible  for operations and the further developments of various IT solutions. Then there was the chance to take this position – and I took it. I learned that I can develop myself further if I keep leaving my comfort zone and taking on new challenges.

Why this job?

For me, the IT area is one of the most exciting in the company. Digitalization is making IT more and more an integral part of processes and products: In the Tire division this is especially true. We as IT are not only a service provider but also a partner and innovation force. Continental Tire IT’s vision is that business drives IT and IT drives business. In other words, targeting to inspire and support each other. It is great to be part of this and to help shape the future.

As a woman in IT?

I am happy to see that more and more women work in IT. Job profiles in IT are changing just as much as the technologies does. IT is not just about programming or maintaining hardware. It is quite the contrary: more and more software is being purchased which transforms the job characteristics. Leadership and coordinating tasks, such as project management activities, are increasing. You have to be able to communicate, network, interact with internal and external stakeholders and consult them. I can imagine that such job profiles might be increasingly appealing to women. Another plus point is that in IT we have a high affinity for new technologies. They are enhancing the flexibility of our jobs, because you can work more mobile and do not always have to be on site. That is a big plus if you have children and a career. For example, I can work from home if one of my children is ill or participate virtually in a workshop, if a business trip does not fit into the calendar.

Recommendations for the career path?

Ask the right questions! Often it is expected that you know everything as a project manager or leader. But it is not possible to really know everything yourself. Usually the knowledge lies in the entire team. To deal with this openly and to ask the right questions instead, surprises some colleagues and often brings new perspectives and thus, pushes things forward.
Give and take: Communicate openly with your supervisor what you are willing to perform, but also which framework conditions you need for it. I am ready to commit myself strongly to my career, but I also need time and flexibility for my family. My supervisors have always supported this because both sides win when things go well that way.
Stay authentic! One of my former supervisors recommended to act tougher in order to pursue a career. I sticked to my own style and have been successful with it.

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Sylvia

I studied Cultural Sciences and Information Technology at the University of Hildesheim. Since 2004 I am with Continental. After leading several IT projects and teams, I am now working as Head of Strategy, Processes and Project Management for IT Tires.

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