From the fields to the head office
Johann Pleininger grew up in the part of Austria where the vineyards meet the petroleum pumps. Born in Mistelback in 1962, he spent his childhood working the fertile fields of his homeland, where he learned the true meaning of hard labor.
“My father was sick and I had to help out on the family farm. Luxuries were hard to come by at the time. Somehow this experience has shaped my perspective on life, and I have learned that you can’t always choose the easiest and most comfortable path.”
Pleininger’s path was certainly neither easy nor entirely comfortable. At the age of 15, he would make a choice that would impact the rest of his career. He took on an apprenticeship at one of Austria’s largest industrial companies, OMV.
He apprenticed as a mechanical technician and was able to study engineering in parallel, obtaining a truly hands-on education. He went on to spend the next 18 years of his life working the land of his childhood, but in an entirely different way. He had become an oil field worker, followed by a shift leader, and later a foreman, learning the trade from the bottom up.
“Oil and gas are not produced in the headquarters. I worked my way up but never forgot where my roots are, always having my feet on the ground.”
He understands better than most that, in order for the incredible technological advancements to stick, the entire organization needs to be on board, sooner rather than later. His advice to all future leaders attempting similar digital endeavors is this:
“To a future successor, I recommend that you remain curious and flexible, and to always strive to incorporate the latest technologies. This constant aim for improvement will ensure that we continue to produce oil and gas safely and efficiently,” says Pleininger
You can’t always choose the easiest or most comfortable path, he's learned. But with a well-aligned team on board, combined with the right technology to make it happen, the energy industry is positioned to overcome its challenges and navigate a more sustainable, data-driven future.