Breaking Barriers: Samina Khalid Talks Transformative Branding in the Heat and Steam Industry

“In an engaging conversation, Samina Khalid shares insights on her impactful journey and the power of strategic branding in the energy and environment industry.”

Over my tenure, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of cohesive communication and strategic branding. It’s not just about representing a company; it’s about crafting a narrative that resonates globally. Together, we’re not just shaping perceptions; we’re driving industry-wide change.


Samina Khalid

Head of Corporate Communication


Interviewer: How many years have you dedicated to your role within the heat and steam industry?

Samina Khalid: Heat and steam are just a very small part of my entire portfolio. I would say energy and the environment are my focus.

It’s been almost 3 years since I’ve been working at Thermax and I have a total experience of  14+ years in the manufacturing industry.


Interviewer: Thermax’s marketing communication is among the finest in the world. How has your work over the years impacted the energy and environment industry globally?

Samina Khalid: Thermax’s branding and marketing communication is definitely a team effort. Over the years, we’ve had many individuals contributing to it. We have various divisions, each with its team dedicated to marketing communications.

When I joined, one of the first things I noticed was the lack of clarity regarding our brand guidelines. For instance, I asked about the specific Pantone shade of red in our logo, and surprisingly, no one had a definite answer. This prompted me to focus on strengthening our foundational elements.

So we concentrated on establishing robust processes, systems, and technology infrastructure. From there, we aimed to elevate our brand.

Last year, we undertook a significant rebranding initiative to reposition Thermax. Traditionally perceived as solely a boiler company, we wanted to communicate that we’re much more than that – an energy and environment company. This repositioning as a trusted partner in energy transition was a pivotal milestone for us.

We’re not just limiting ourselves to traditional media; we’re embracing various channels to convey our message effectively.

Interviewer: What are the core principles that guide your leadership approach within the company?

Samina Khalid: Partnership is key. We believe in a collaborative approach where decisions aren’t dictated by just one individual’s perspective. Our leadership style revolves around inclusivity and consensus-building. We value open discussions within the team, where everyone’s input is considered. Sometimes opinions may differ, but that’s where healthy debates come into play. We weigh all perspectives, assess what’s best for the team, and then collectively make informed decisions. It’s all about fostering a culture of collaboration and mutual respect.


Interviewer: How can companies create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for women?

Samina Khalid: I believe many companies are making strides in creating inclusive environments, and Thermax stands out as a prime example. However, this shift isn’t unique to us; numerous players in the industry are also fostering such environments. But I think there’s still work to be done, especially in dispelling myths surrounding certain professions. Take engineering, for instance. There’s this misconception that it’s all about being stuck on the shop floor, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Engineering offers a diverse range of opportunities where creativity thrives, spanning across various domains. It’s about time we address these misconceptions and showcase the breadth of possibilities within the field.

Interviewer: What advice would you give to a young woman interested in pursuing a career in this industry?

Samina Khalid: Women should approach this industry with genuine passion and enthusiasm because there’s so much to explore and learn. It’s not limited to specific fields like HR, IT, or public relations; rather, the engineering sector offers a rich platform for innovation and growth. There’s a common misconception that creativity thrives more in B2C companies, but that’s not necessarily true. Even in roles like corporate communications and marketing communications, there’s ample opportunity for creativity and impact. So, I encourage them to consider all avenues and embrace the diverse opportunities available in this industry.


Interviewer: How do you approach fostering effective communication both internally among team members and externally with stakeholders?

Samina Khalid: Regular meetings play a crucial role in maintaining communication channels. Take, for instance, Thermax Fest—an event centred around innovation, marking its inaugural edition. It’s not just about external communication; it’s equally important for Thermax employees to be aligned with the messaging. Picture this: seven thousand direct employees discussing the repositioning on platforms like LinkedIn, or resharing corporate posts. The impact could be monumental. That’s why we meticulously planned internal and external communication strategies. Before unveiling the repositioning to the public, we first briefed our internal teams, ensuring alignment from top to bottom. The same approach applied to Thermax Fest. We conducted internal sessions, sent regular email updates, and even utilized physical reminders like danglers across offices nationwide. These efforts culminated in a successful event, complemented by activities like Employee Day. From email signatures to social media, we left no stone unturned in conveying our message effectively. This integrated approach underscores our commitment to cohesive communication, both internally and externally.



Interviewer: What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role as head of corporate communications?

Samina Khalid: Thermax’s growth trajectory spans various dimensions, presenting both opportunities and challenges. With the influx of new businesses, our team, though agile, faces the complexity of serving multiple divisions adequately. Take, for instance, participation in an event like Boiler World—not merely a company endeavour, but a collective effort of 16 diverse business units. Ensuring a unified message across these units poses a significant challenge, demanding meticulous attention. Despite this complexity, we strive to maintain coherence, understanding the importance of a cohesive customer takeaway. Furthermore, amidst numerous partnerships and evolving landscapes, understanding our portfolio remains paramount. While not insurmountable, time constraints add pressure, underscoring the importance of deep subject knowledge for effective communication. Thus, prioritising comprehension and allocating sufficient time are essential facets of our communication strategy.



Interviewer: What are the key changes you foresee in the heat & steam industry in the coming five years?

Samina Khalid: The momentum around energy transition is palpable. During recent engagements in Hyderabad, and discussions with various stakeholders, including customers, media, and government bodies, people highlighted their keen interest in this transition. Even the recent interim budget reflects a focus on energy transition. This widespread enthusiasm indicates that the industry is  ripe with potential for organised growth. It’s not just an Indian narrative; globally, the discourse revolves around green and clean energy solutions. Our interactions at events like Boiler World affirmed this global trend.

While we do have a global presence, our communication efforts need enhancement, especially in markets like the US and Germany. Currently, our focus on Southeast Asia is strong, but we recognise the need to bridge the communication gap in other regions. This strategic alignment is crucial for our global aspirations.

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