When Fairygodboss asked Amanda Stephens what career move she’s most proud of, her answer was quick: She made the jump to Continental.
It required leaving a job she loved at another automotive company — and leaving her comfort zone — but the work culture, benefits and opportunities to do innovative work that she’s experienced at Continental made the move a great one.
Recently, Stephens sat down to share the career path and skill building experiences that led her to Continental — and gave us insight into the exciting projects she works on as a Manager, Shared Mobility & Fleet Solutions. She also clued us into the advice that’s empowered her to make bold career moves and told us about the Continental benefits that help her perform at her best.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been in my role with Continental for two years this month! Right before I started with Continental, I was working with another automotive company to launch two different mobility projects which started in San Francisco and then expanded globally. We were a very small, “family-like” team where we all had to excel at multiple roles within the business in order to make it function effectively.
I have a wide range of experience in various industries, including automotive, education, food & beverage, tech, special needs education, marketing and property management. I guess you could say that I like to experiment and challenge myself to learn more about different fields and the world itself. Being able to develop a wide range of skills by working in a variety of industries gives you a holistic view on life which allows you to see how we are all interconnected and that we need each other’s expertise to make the world function.
What drew you to Continental?
I was being recruited by Continental and decided to take the interview after a little convincing from my husband. Once I learned more about the role and the flexibility Continental offered their employees, I decided to take a risk and leave a job I loved to pursue a new opportunity.
What type of projects or programs are you currently working on?
My role is pretty diverse. Part of my role is on the sales side of the business where I work with customers, like multiple ride-share companies. I also work on Continental’s advanced development projects. For example, we’re currently working on a patent for a new product that we’re excited to roll out to the market.
What’s the first thing you do at work every day to set yourself up for success?
Honestly, before COVID-19, I didn’t have much time in the mornings, as I had a long commute to the office. Everything I needed for the workday would be prepared the night before to ensure I could be out of the house in under 15 minutes to start my journey. Now that I’ve been working from home, I feel very blessed to be able to wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee prior to a quick workout. It gives me time to reflect and prepare for the day ahead. Once I start working, I always check my calendar to ensure last minute meetings didn’t pop up overnight and then I move on to check my email to plan for the day ahead.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
Coming to the realization that I reached my full potential at my prior company and taking a leap of faith by stepping out of my comfort zone to join Continental. It has been one of the most liberating experiences, full of unknown surprises and interesting challenges. Continental has exposed me to global travel, given me more independence to drive business development projects and consistently pushes me to drive innovation by having close and collaborative relationships with my colleagues. So far it has been a very rewarding experience.
What do you love most about your job or your company?
Working at the R&D center in Silicon Valley, I’ve come to realize that Continental provides a fantastic work-life balance. I appreciate the fact that every day is different, and that my work hours can be flexible. There are some days where I have meetings at 3:30 a.m. and other days I won’t have a meeting until 9 a.m. Continental’s “Freedom to Act” value is reflected through the company culture and, as such, they trust you to analyze and excel in your role by giving you full autonomy as long as the end goal is being completed by the deadline and in alignment with corporate policy.
Additionally, there is so much diversity within Continental and that diversity enables you to experience a wide range of opinions and skill sets, which helps to maximize your perspective on a variety of topics.
Prior to COVID, I also had the amazing opportunity to travel with Continental. Within my first few months at the company, I went to Germany and China and was able to meet some of my colleagues, as well as board members. It was a wonderful way to experience other cultures and to meet my colleagues in person to connect with them on a deeper, more personal level.
What’s your No. 1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
Never doubt yourself and expose yourself to as many opportunities and experiences as you can! Take risks and learn from your mistakes. Every “mistake” is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and leads to your individual growth. Remember your voice matters, speak up and stand by the decisions you think are valid. In the end, a woman’s intuition is very real — it’s something you shouldn’t doubt.
Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
Both of my parents have provided so much insight to my life and have influenced me in different ways, both directly and indirectly.
My father always taught me to be my unique self. From the moment I was born, he told me I was unlike anyone else in this world. He would tell me “I am my own person” and to live up to that. He was my rock and my inspiration for so many things, like hard work and dedication to something or a few somethings. His immense love for racing and building cars still resides with me today. After he tragically passed, I decided to purchase a ‘63 Chevy Bel Air (even though he was a Ford guy) and joined a car club at 16. He is one of the major reasons why I am currently working in the automotive field.
My mother is a true inspiration to not only myself but to all those who cross her path. She is a force of nature whose selfless acts of kindness motivate all those around her to want to do better. There were times she would give up her last dollar to someone she would say needed it more than we did, and would always tell us: “Don’t worry, we will be ‘paid’ back; no good deed goes unheard.” She accepts people from all walks of life and passes no judgment — just solely provides love and guidance for anyone who wishes to embrace the gift she provides. Her kindness and endless love are things I admire, and they push me to be grateful for everything I have and to appreciate the multitude of differences present in our society.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
No. 1: Never pass on applying for a job you’re interested in, even if you think you are unqualified. Just take the risk and apply! You will never know the outcome until you do. Worst case, you didn’t get the job. The best-case scenario is you nailed it.
No. 2: Always ask for a second or even a third opinion. Never sell yourself short and go for the first option that comes to you.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
Trust. Having a boss that truly trusts your judgement and doesn’t need to micromanage you is empowering. You were hired for the position because they felt you would excel at it, so there is little reason for them to doubt your ability to handle the role. When questions arise, a good boss is there to motivate and encourage you by providing insight from their own experiences. They are there to assist with your personal and career growth, both within the position you are in and for a better or more challenging role.
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