Tire maker Continental AG is doing very well financially, and its training program is surely playing a large part in its success – now and going forward.

We recently reported on this website that based on the exchange rate on Dec. 31, 2011, Continental recorded net income of $1.6 billion on net sales of $39.5 billion for fiscal 2011. Both of the numbers are records. (For the full report, click here.) 

A news item picked up by the Bradenton (Fla.) Herald’s website reports on the company’s impressive training program for engineering and science graduates.

It reported that “Continental's Tires division offers two different training programs in the areas of R&D and production. They are directed at graduates from the fields of mechanical engineering, chemistry, chemical engineering, and physics. About 50 trainees are recruited across the world each year and can join one of the two programs on various starting dates.

“The Explore Tires Research & Development program is based at the Technology Center in Hanover Stocken and specifically targets international applicants. In addition to the projects in R&D in Hanover, each trainee also completes a project at one of the tire factories abroad.

“The Explore Tires Manufacturing & Engineering program is staged at Continental's tire plants in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America. The applicants from these regions spend the main part of the 24-month program at a tire factory in their home country. As part of a six-month stay in Hanover, they also complete one or more projects at the global Technology Center and at the central manufacturing and engineering departments in Hanover Stocken.”

What really caught my attention was that the majority of new trainees are women.

The newest Explore Tires Research & Development trainee program at Continental's Tires division has six women and five men who will work through different areas of R&D, production and marketing as part of the program.

For years now, the international tire manufacturer has recorded a rising number of women among new recruits in research and development, the paper reported.

"Research and development, particularly in the motor industry, is often an exclusively man's world. In reality, things are very different today at Continental. Over the business year just ended, more than one third of the new appointments in tire development were women," says Geert Roik, head of Research & Development Commercial Vehicle Tires at Continental. "We have also noticed a growing number of women joining our international training program in tire research and development. In general, we do aim for a balanced ratio of male and female candidates for these programs. The course year that began on March 1 gives a clear sign with a more than 50% share of women. This shows the high standard of specialist qualifications among female candidates."

Continental is consciously backing the promotion and development of female talent with its personnel policy.

One example is Franziska Neef,  who joined Continental's commercial vehicle tire world in 2002 after completing her integrated degree program in mechanical engineering: "I learned the tire trade from scratch and was able to take responsibility in several areas of commercial vehicle tire development following my integrated degree program," the paper reported.

“At present, I am leading a team that develops new products and solutions for retreading commercial vehicle tires.

"The attraction of my job is that the development work for retreading is multilayered and is linked to other areas. For example, my team works closely with colleagues from new tire development to ensure that the casing, which is the heart of all tires, has a long life and can be retread several times."

The Herald reported that Franziska does not see any differences between women and men in tire research: "Here everyone performs in the same way and we are not assessed with two different standards. Also, discussions, for example, are a lot more interesting and varied due to the different approaches."

I remember going to trade shows 20 years ago and just about the only women besides myself were models signing autographs in some companies’ booths.

Now I see women in every capacity, from company owners to marketing to service techs to PR.

Makes me proud, and I'm sure the women's perspectives have had a positive effect on the tire industry and will have in the years ahead. 

Author

Lori L. Mavrigian
Lori L. Mavrigian

Managing Editor

Since joining <I>Modern Tire Dealer</I> in 1979, Lori Mavrigian has held several key positions leading to her current title as managing editor. In addition to handling the day-to-day operations of magazine production, Lori writes features, contributes photography and is in charge of several of the magazines departments. She also works with the magazine's National Advisory Council for the exclusive Ludwig Report surveys. She earned a B.A. in Mass Media-Communications from the University of Akron.

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Since joining <I>Modern Tire Dealer</I> in 1979, Lori Mavrigian has held several key positions leading to her current title as managing editor. In addition to handling the day-to-day operations of magazine production, Lori writes features, contributes photography and is in charge of several of the magazines departments. She also works with the magazine's National Advisory Council for the exclusive Ludwig Report surveys. She earned a B.A. in Mass Media-Communications from the University of Akron.

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