On Thursday, April 12, the international technology company Continental hosted a “Women in Unique Roles” lunch experience at its North American headquarters location in Auburn Hills, Michigan, for 12 female students from the Pontiac school district.
The experience was moderated by Vickie Thomas, city beat reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950, and consisted of lunch, a panel discussion from four of Continental’s female leaders and a hands-on tour of Continental’s engineering garage where the girls watched demonstrations of several of Continental’s newest technologies, including state-of-the-art braking sensors, smart mobility access controls, smart tire technology and more.
The panel discussion centered around the state of women in technology and engineering management and the panelists included Aruna Anand, head of Continental engineering services North America; Catherine Loss, head of retread worldwide for commercial vehicle tires; and Beyza Sarioglu, head of hybrid electric vehicles, North America. Mary Reardon, head of talent acquisition for Continental in North America, was also on the panel and discussed how Continental is fostering flexible work practices and actively increasing diversity and inclusion in management. Overall, the panel discussion was both interactive and enlightening as the execs not only shared motivating career advice and positive snippets from their career journeys, but they also shared some of the unique challenges they have faced as women leaders in the industry. “I hope 10 to 15 years from now, when you’re taking leadership roles, that it won’t be unique to see women in these fields anymore,” Anand said. “I don’t see anything unique about being a woman in this industry besides the fact that there [are] so few of us.”
At the end of the panel discussion, the panelists gave the students a chance to engage by giving each of the girls an opportunity to discuss which careers they were interested in learning more about.
Immediately following the panel discussion, Continental presented a $2K donation to assist science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives for Project Excel students in the Pontiac School District. Continental also made a $1K donation to the National Association of Black Journalists’ Ethel Payne Fellowship. Named after the first Black female commentator employed by a U.S. television network, the Fellowship provides opportunities for journalists to gain international experience.The lunch experience concluded with a tour of Continental’s engineering garage where the girls were able to get up close and personal with some of Continental’s newest technology, including their HUD (Heads Up Display) technology that’s included in the new Lincoln Continental, which projects a holographic image on the windshield, reflecting pertinent information such as speed, fuel gauge, time, temperature and more.
Continental is a leading technology company that specializes in developing intelligent, clean, safe and connected technologies for transporting people and their goods. Continental is an industry leader producing everything from technology to tires, covering all four corners of the vehicle, across the world. The company began as a manufacturer of rubber products, rubber fabrics, and carriage and bicycle tires more than 145 years ago. The company’s products and technologies help drive industries forward while making vehicles safer, cleaner, connected and more affordable. In 2017, the company generated sales of €44 billion across its five divisions: Chassis & safety, interior, powertrain, tires, and ContiTech.