“I learn lots from the younger generation”
Mario Ontiveros arrived at the Pesquería Power Plant in Mexico eight years ago. Today, he’s Operations & Maintenance Manager: a born leader
Mario Ontiveros runs operations and maintenance at the Mexican power plant, where he arrived eight years ago to help start the project, staying on once it began operating. He’s an electronics engineer who was lucky enough to be able to take his first steps in the field as soon as he graduated: "I’ve been very fortunate to be able to always work in the area I love." His words ring with pride, as he says, "How can I not love Pesquería if I saw it take shape as it rose from the ground? It’s a project in which I’ve invested so much time, mental energy and passion!"
His job entails great responsibilities. One of his secrets is to be relaxed and put his trust in his work team, and in youth in general, as he believes that the new generations have a lot to teach him. How to break paradigms, or how to leap over barriers; the value of optimism. Mario talks about this and much more in our latest Interview with Leaders.
What are the most important challenges in your area?
I'm thinking about two major challenges. As a Connected Factory, we have an impact on both the business and the national electricity grid. If we get things wrong, it can affect all kinds of consumers, from our partners to hospitals, homes and supermarkets, to give a few examples. So that’s our first challenge: to help Tecpetrol achieve its goals. Our job is to constantly improve competitiveness and be more effective. The second challenge is about generating energy that is both efficient and environmentally-friendly: all our CO2 capture policies are being strengthened and our specific role is to speed up this process and innovate through technologies that foster a better coexistence with the environment. It’s about being increasingly sustainable.
How do you work on diversity issues?
It was quite complicated, as there was both a personal and industry paradigm to break. At first, there wasn't that much diversity in the plant, but over time, thanks to our HR leadership, we began to understand the issue better and incorporate it. How am I managing this side of things today? Naturally and gratefully, because there are many women leading projects and holding positions of responsibility.
What do you learn from people of other generations?
Something I’ve learned from the new generations is to push boundaries. They’re always ahead of the curve and have taught me many things, including how to use creativity: there are always many different ways of reaching the same goal. That’s been an important point. Another thing I like is young people’s optimism. That motivation and drive are essential.
What kind of leader do you consider yourself to be?
I think I am a bit of everything: I try to be strategic as well as a coach and democratic. Sometimes I think I'm hierarchical, so I try to instill confidence, to teach and, above all, to transmit my experiences to the team. So that we learn from what wasn’t done so well. I am quite protective of them, and I consider that the human factor must always be present when defining a strategy.
What do you treasure from your traditional training and what new elements have you incorporated?
The training I had when I was younger is very different to what it is today. I’ve learned a lot on this path: in previous companies, I saw that the bosses were the ones who always spoke up. Now you listen, you talk to people to find out what they think.
What method do you use when you have to meet very challenging objectives as a team?
Basically, it’s about forward planning. Analyzing and managing the obstacles. Always trying to be one step ahead.
Thinking about your area of influence, what opportunities for innovation do you see in the industry? Does this involve technological or cultural change?
It’s a mix between the two. Innovation in technological development, which is moving quite forcefully and is a train we need to board, and also cultural change, something organic which depends on everybody’s efforts.
How do you participate in the activities proposed by the company in relation to cultural transformation?
The way I participate is by joining in, listening, proposing ideas and encouraging my team, and myself, to work in that direction. For me the topic of cultural transformation is relatively new and I’m working on it. Of course, what we are very clear about is that, no matter how visionary a strategy is, if it doesn’t take cultural changes into account, it won’t be complete.
What would you like Tecpetrol to be like in 2025?
I would like to see Tecpetrol venturing into new areas, toward clean energy, opening up viable paths to help the business evolve and prosper. Of course, accompanied by the value that we all have to give it every day.