An Ombuds Journey: A magical ombuds journey

By Ion Anghel,
Director PetrOmbudsman Department, OMV Petrom

Greetings from Romania! My name is Ion Anghel and since 2018 am the head of the ombus office of OMV Petrom. Because I really believe in sharing experiences, I hope my story will inspire you. So, let’s begin…..

I'm an oil and gas engineer. I was and still am passionate about this profession and even now if I had to choose which college to attend, I would choose the same thing. I consider myself one of the lucky people who combined passion with work, and that allowed me to gain almost 33 years of experience with OMV Petrom (OMV Petrom is a Romanian integrated oil company, part of Austria's OMV company. It is one of the largest corporations in Romania and the largest oil and gas producer in Southeast Europe). I had the opportunity to go through various professional stages from executive positions to top management positions and to make some important choices in my career. 

Since the appearance of the PetrOmbudsman department in 2014, I have been involved. First, as a member in an advisory committee specially set up for this new organizational role. The activity seemed new, innovative and interesting to me, but I never thought that in a few years I would be the one to lead this department.

Taking over this position was a very difficult choice for me because it interrupted the entire professional trajectory that I had visualized until then. Imagine that from an extremely dynamic, demanding position, based on physical results and numbers, I reached the position of ombuds, where the results were measured by the degree of satisfaction of those who crossed our threshold and there were no results with which I was used to up to that moment.

Although everyone who knew me could say very clearly that by my nature, namely to support anyone who asked me for help, I was ombuds long before I officially joined the ombuds department, the feelings that I faced are hard to described in words. A strange mixture of contradictory emotions and responsibility made me uneasy in the first months of my work as the director of PetrOmbudsman. You know it is said that it is hard to get out of the comfort zone, well I felt like I had to reinvent this concept.

So, this is how I felt. After I prepared my 90 days plan, let me tell you what I had to do first. Can you guess?

Exactly, to ensure independence in appearance. And whose independence? Exactly, the independence of the head of PetrOmbudsman Department. In other words, I, the one who was well known in the organization because of the nature of my work and for my results until then, had to impose certain limits that my new role imposed on me. Not to mention reshaping the friendships and collegial relationships formed in so many years of activity.

It sounds difficult right? Well, for me it seemed impossible at that time. However, in time, with a lot of patience and with constant approaches I overcame all the professional and personal challenges. I succeeded to change the perception towards me and my new role, having confidence in me, in my new team, in the company and its employees.

One of my first lessons as ombuds was to start thinking of others instead of myself. I learned that there are many things that I cannot control and that my responsibility is to do everything I can to assure independence in structure, function and appearance. I could not do it by myself, but I gave up all my prejudices and benefit from the support of the organization, employees, friends and colleagues.

One of my first lessons as ombuds was to start thinking of others instead of myself.

All my inner struggles have escalated to the outside and I think being an ombuds transformed from a profession, into a way of life. One in which I receive new challenges every day and I learn something from every discussion. The impossible from the above, became possible and having this role brings me a lot of satisfaction.

I also got the chance to get mentoring support from IOA. It was a pleasure to spend a lot of time with Lynne Chaillat sharing my challenges and trying to find best solutions. This engagement helped me a lot.

At this point, everybody looks at me as the ombuds, only in this role. What did I achieve? We have a strong and independent team, a team of passionate professionals and an independent, respected ombuds office, used by employees and management, which adds value to the organization.

I wish you all the best,

Ion Anghel


How to Submit

This post continues our series representing the various pathways one may take in their journey as an ombuds. If you would like to share your journey, please email your narrative to [email protected]. We will be collecting stories throughout the month of June and we encourage both members and non-members to submit and share their experiences here on IOA's Blog. 

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Here are some prompts to help you frame your narrative:

  • What first inspired you to fulfill the role of an ombuds?
  • How has your educational background helped you succeed in this role?
  • What professional experiences helped shape your path?
  • What allows you to stay prepared for success in your role?
  • How do you care for yourself to ensure your sustainability in this role?
  • What guidance would you give others that are interested in starting their journey?


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Comments on "An Ombuds Journey: A magical ombuds journey"

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Barb Beatty - Friday, November 19, 2021

Ion, I enjoyed your story very much. It is impressive that you were able to make the transition from engineering and executive management with the same company you have been with for years. As you indicated, establishing new boundaries was a part of the journey. That is one thing I find I have discussed with so many visitors as it relates to developing healthy relationships with others. Well done. It sounds like you were drawn, over time, to what is innately part of your core, helping others. Thank you for sharing. You inspire me to write my story. Cheers to you! Barbara Beatty

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