Mark Pohl knew he wanted to be an engineer. While in college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he also knew he didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk all day.
A chance internship at his local electric utility opened Pohl’s eyes to a way he could mix his love of engineering with his desire to work in business.
“I really wanted to work with people and find unique solutions to their problems,” Pohl said. “At OPPD, I found the right mix of engineering and business.”
Finding a fit
Pohl, who recently became supervisor of land management, siting and records, said he was originally supposed to go to Cambridge, Mass., for a summer internship at Harvard University. When that fell through, another opportunity opened up for Pohl. Instead of Boston, Pohl ended up at OPPD’s Fort Calhoun Station.
Something about the electric utility lit a spark in Pohl. While his friends and classmates talked of job aspirations and hopes of bouncing between multiple companies, Pohl craved stability and challenge.
“I wanted an employer that I could make a career at,” Pohl said. “I wanted a place where I could work in a variety of areas, and learn the business from many different angles. I found that at OPPD.”
Pohl and his wife, Sara, are both from the Omaha area. They knew they wanted to raise their three children here. The kids keep the couple busy, he coaches their oldest son, Ryan, in soccer and basketball. He’s also been teaching the older kids how to golf, one of Pohl’s favorite pastimes.
Pohl’s first full-time job at OPPD was in Operations Analysis where he worked in continuous process improvement, facilitated Lean streamlining projects, coordinated benchmarking programs and forecasted workforce planning efforts.
He is thankful to Joe Waszak, retired former division manager of Operations Analysis, who hired Pohl and assigned him to some big projects early on. That exposure, Pohl said, enabled him to make meaningful relationships around the district.
“Those relationships have allowed me to be successful in my subsequent supervisory and leadership roles,” he said. “I may not know the answer to every question, but I know where to go in order to get the answers.”
After working in Operations Analysis, Pohl was promoted to a supervisor role in Customer Sales and Service, where he led the electric service design team for six years, working out of the Papillion Service Center. It was in that role that he discovered a passion for customer service.
Pohl said he’s enjoying the new role in land management and has a strong team who provide great customer service.
So what’s a day in Pohl’s life like?
On one particular day, he puts the finishing touches on a stakeholder engagement and customer outreach plan for a proposed new transmission line. Then Pohl reviews current easement negotiations with his team regarding the Sarpy Transmission Project. Next up, a meeting with an engineering firm to discuss property impacts from nearby transmission lines. Finally, he updates the La Vista city council on a transmission relocation project and the timing of power pole removals.
It’s a fast pace and there are plenty of interactions with customers, both internal and external.
Away from work, Pohl and his wife are involved with their parish. Trips to the mountains of Colorado are also welcome getaways. Pohl said it is important their children see the value of being involved.
“We want to show our kids the importance of giving back to the community,” he said.
He’s particularly proud several projects his teams have been involved with that benefited the greater community. Among them are line extension projects for Completely Kids, the Siena Francis House, the Stephens Center in south Omaha and the Women’s Center for Advancement.
He also volunteers his time as an adviser to the non-profit Share Omaha and as a board member for the Business Ethics Alliance.
Over the years, Pohl has also been involved in recruiting new engineering students to OPPD.
“I tell them to give the utility industry a chance,” he said. “It may not have the glitz or glamour of other places, but I stress the importance of the commodity we provide our customers and the enjoyment of helping the utility transform in an ever-changing industry. It’s a great balance of engineering and business.”
That mix in the job is just what Pohl knew it would be, and why he’s proud to be a part of the OPPD team.