Continental believes that success starts with people. To create development opportunities for all employees, the technology company has built a worldwide culture that emphasizes diversity and lifelong learning. Two employees that embody Continental’s commitment to people are helping lead the way in North America:
- Ina Seterbakken is the plant manager leading the company’s new Aguascalientes plant from construction to its opening in 2021. The electronic plant will support Continental’s Connected Car Networking business unit. Prior to joining Continental, Seterbakken was a three-time Norwegian champion figure skater. She joined the company as a part of its Integrated Apprenticeship Degree Program. The competitive program offers participants a unique learning experience working with various global business units. Seterbakken first visited Mexico as one stop in the program. Today, the global experience she gained in the program is proving invaluable.
- Vyola Fisher is the plant manager for the Periferico plant, located in Guadalajara, a facility with more than 18 years of history supporting the company’s Vehicle Networking and Information business area. She started the position earlier this year after working in several roles in Germany for about three years. Most recently, she was the Head of Manufacturing Innovations, leading the company’s efforts in Industry 4.0 strategic projects and advanced robotics. In addition to her global experience working in different countries, Fisher has worked in a number of business units across Continental from new product launches to industrial engineering.
“Diversity is key to innovation. It is the catalyst for everything we do,” said Samir Salman, CEO of Continental North America. “Through diversity of backgrounds and perspectives, we gain the benefit of different ways of looking at our business. Ina and Vyola both bring unique ideas from distinct backgrounds, which is critical in order to remain competitive in today’s global environment.”
Seterbakken is Continental’s youngest plant manager in North America. She has been coordinating development of the new Aguascalientes plant beginning with construction. Under her leadership, the plant has been steadily progressing toward its scheduled opening next year despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can’t say enough about the team I get to work with every day,” said Seterbakken. “When I first started with Continental, I quickly found it was the right fit for me as they supported my ambitions and curiosities. I never expected to be working in Mexico, but when I got the chance to visit the country as a part of the degree program, I fell in love. Not many women in the industry have the opportunity to lead a plant like this, especially early in their careers. I’m thankful to work for a company that is changing that narrative.”
Originally from Mexico, Fisher recently spent more than three years on an international assignment in Germany. There, she served as the Head of Central Electronic Plant Operations, where she was responsible for defining operational standards and related strategic projects in 29 automotive electronic plants across three continents. She also developed strategies for smart equipment and advanced robotics as the Head of Manufacturing Innovations. Now back in Mexico, Fisher leads the Periferico plant. The plant is one of just a few in the world to have production, R&D and reliability laboratories operating in one location. It produces instrument clusters for light vehicles, trucks, commercial vehicles and motorcycles, including being one of the only plants in the region to manufacture Head up Display devices.
“Since the beginning of my career at Continental, I have always had the opportunity to learn and grow, from one business unit to another and with each assignment, implementing cutting-edge ideas,” said Fisher. “It’s been such an advantage to work for a globally diverse company that encourages people to pursue new opportunities, independent of race, gender or nationality. Facing different challenges and opportunities in daily business encourages both me and my team to strive to achieve our targets in a collaborative environment, truly showcasing our company value of For One Another, especially during these unprecedented times.”
Continental knows that its growth and innovations depend on a strong, diverse global team. The company has developed several initiatives to attract top tech talent and become the employer of choice among diverse career-seekers.
“We continuously work to enhance our diversity efforts throughout the organization. A part of this is our commitment to develop and invest in diverse talent that helps expand and drive our company forward,” said Rick Ledsinger, Senior Vice President, Human Relations, Continental North America and Tire the Americas. “People with different lifestyles and backgrounds challenge each other more – and the organization needs that. We recognize that diversity is a source of creativity and innovation and we are committed to creating opportunities for all employees to advance their careers with us.”
From company-sponsored online courses to in-person training, Continental creates opportunities for employees to build skills in new areas. It has also been recognized for its commitment to employees, including as the only manufacturing company to make this year’s prestigious Fortune Magazine 18 Best Big Companies to Work For™ and a certified official Great Place to Work. Additionally, the company was recognized by Fairygodboss as one of the Best Companies for Women for the second consecutive year. Continental is also among the top 100 on the Forbes America’s Best Employers list and named a Best Employer for Diversity by Forbes. These honors motivate Continental to work even harder toward strengthening its position as the most attractive and progressive employer.
Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. Founded in 1871, the technology company offers safe, efficient, intelligent, and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation. In 2019, Continental generated sales of €44.5 billion and currently employs more than 230,000 people in 59 countries and markets.
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