Continental AG

The first job was last for about two years. The work wasn’t hard. I felt my potential wasn’t fully realized, so I chose quit.

With two years work experience, looking for a new job was totally different compared with the situation when I just graduated. I registered in a few job-finding websites, and soon I received many phone calls from head hunters and HRs. No headhunters contacted me before, and suddenly I felt a little flattered.

Finally, in May 2007, I joined Continental Automotive, and was responsible for the software development of in-car infotainment and communication products. This area is the intersection of automotive electronics and communication systems, and is a relatively new area. Both the knowledge of car system and mobile communication system are required.

The department I joined was Infotainment & Connectivity Business Unit, Interior Division. The predecessor of this department was Motorola automotive electronics. Continental Automotive System acquired Motorola automotive electronics in 2006. At that time, the company was in CITIC Square in Nanjing West Road, Shanghai. Later, in 2008, Continental Automotive Group acquired Siemens VDO, and the company moved to the headquarters of Siemens VDO, just besides the Bund. That period was very interesting: from my home to office, although not very far, I need walking, taking subway, bus, and ferry. I think not many people going to work have to take so many types of transports.

When I joined Conti, the merging for Motorola automotive electronics was not yet complete. Most of the documents and standards were entitled as Motorola. Big companies always have a comprehensive set of processes to carry out work. This is a wealth for these giant companies. For the automotive industry, maybe technology is not the era most advanced, but it must ensure a high quality. This is the difference with the consumer electronics industry.

The automotive electronics industry was another new area for me. There was a two-month learning period after on board. After that, I began to take on the task of development. Although busy, but very happy. I felt I became a real engineer after joining Continental.

The name of my department is Infotainment and Connectivity Business Unit. As its Chinese name, it was I who named it! When the Business Unit was firstly established after the new integration, it only had a English name. Our boss called for the Chinese translation in our department. Finally, my proposal was selected.

2011 Shanghai International Auto Show, Continental booth

2011 Shanghai International Auto Show, Continental booth

In these years in Continental, the projects which I participated could be classified into two categories.

First, the Bluetooth hands-free infotainment system. It’s an embedded module in vehicle. It can connect user’s mobile phone via Bluetooth wireless connection, and provides hands-free calling, Bluetooth music streaming, voice access phone book, conversation recording in a call, and etc. Later, infotainment features are developed. The module can access Internet via the packet data connection through mobile phone, and provide information downloading and off-board navigation functions.

Second, in-vehicle embedded module of Telematics system. Such vehicle equipment itself contains a wireless module to access the mobile phone network. With the help of GPS and remote server, various telematics services can be implemented, such as vehicle anti-theft system, vehicle parameter monitoring, remote diagnostics, remote control, and emergency call service.

Continental Automotive Group is one of the giants in automotive electronics industry. In the field of car infotainment and communications, our company has a strong power. Our products are on the cutting-edge and have top-performance in the world wide. A wide range of technologies are necessary in this field. I learned a lot, including: Bluetooth, speech recognition, TTS, GPS, navigation, PPP dial-up Internet, embedded TCP/IP protocol stack, Telematics services, and so on.

In addition, the greatest gain was that I learned the general process of software project development. In such a world top-500 company, I not only learned some specific technical knowledge, but also experienced how to develop a project. The maturity of the project development process is the essence of these big companies. The process is developed after decades of accumulation and repeated practice. It’s very important to comply with the development process. Only in this way, the project can be done successfully. Learning and following the process is the responsibility of every team member.

Our department is a good team. Vibrant, active, and very united. In our daily work, we all trust each other, and work closely for a common goal. The working is a pleasant experience. It makes me a good understanding of what is team spirit.

For example, when writing documentation or code, you reviewed yourself again and again to make sure there are no errors. But in the review meeting, team members can always give you some good comments and suggestions. No matter how much you fully prepared, there are still some points can be improved.

In recent years in Continental, “soft skill” training was more important than the learning of technical knowledge. The company organized many training sessions for soft skill development. For example, how to solve and analyze problems, speech skills, and how to manage time.

However, there were still problems. As an OEM manufacturer of automotive components, our customers are car manufacturers. Customer is God. During a project’s development process, customer will change their requirements continuously, even when the project development is almost finished. But the project schedule cannot be extended. This gives our development team a lot of pressure.