On “International Women’s Day” 65 years ago, the spotlight in the OMV Executive Board fell on a remarkable woman – Margarethe Ottillinger. She was still in her mid-30s and had already amassed a turbulent, dramatic life story. Shortly after World War II, she was accused of spying for the USA, sentenced to 25 years of forced labor, and carted off to a Soviet Gulag. She was held there for seven years, learnt Russian, and then returned to Austria after being released in 1955 before becoming the first female board member of OMV in 1958. Her many accomplishments include being responsible for negotiating the first gas supply agreements to Western Europe with what was then the USSR. (You can read more about Margarethe Ottillinger’s exciting life here.)
Maybe it’s true that women sometimes experience more of a headwind than a tailwind. But instead of letting that deter us, we need to draw on our strengths. We shouldn’t pretend to be someone else, we should remain authentic, use our intuition, and deal with others in a way that’s dignified and respectful.”
Elena Skvortsova, Chief Commercial Officer Marketing & Trading, OMV Aktiengesellschaft
If we look at OMV on today’s International Women’s Day, a few parallels can be seen: There is another woman on the OMV Executive Board in the form of Elena Skvortsova. She also speaks Russian (as her mother tongue) and she also counts the gas business among her responsibilities. (Here is a brief video portrait of Elena Skvortsova.) “Margarethe Ottillinger: The first woman on the OMV Executive Board. She did not have an easy life, but she managed to turn a hard hand she was dealt into something very positive and that’s impressive”, says Elena Skvortsova. Is this a skill that women at the highest levels need in particular? “Maybe it’s true that women sometimes experience more of a headwind than a tailwind. But instead of letting that deter us, we need to draw on our strengths. We shouldn’t pretend to be someone else, we should remain authentic, use our intuition, and deal with others in a way that’s dignified and respectful”.
More than six decades divide Margarethe Ottillinger and Elena Skvortsova. The fact remains that the oil industry continues to be heavily male-dominated and that the path to an optimal balance of diversity and equal opportunities remains long and winding. And yet these six decades have also been shaped by many strong OMV women who have made OMV into a successful company through the knowhow, experience and leadership skills they contribute every day.
A small (and naturally incomplete) selection of strong OMV women:
Elena Skvortsova is aware of the special role she has as the only woman on the OMV Executive Board: “I hope it makes a difference for diversity and for the journey that we’re on here at OMV. I also hope it makes a difference for a lot of women, who are looking to grow in their careers as well. That it’s possible, that it’s definitely something that is doable, if they want to do it.
Image copyrights portrait Ottillinger: Philipp Horak, Stefan Karner, ORF/Epo Film/Petro Domenigg