We speak to Nicole Samples, Water & Wastewater Segment Marketing and Communications Manager at Schneider Electric, as part of our cycle of interviews to the media relations directors of relevant water businesses and non-profit organizations across the globe, to discover how this France-based company uses the latest technologies to communicate about water.
Question: Firstly, we would like to know briefly your career path.
Answer: My career began in recruiting and sales for the first few years post graduate school, but I later found my passion in marketing. I began my marketing career with a small marketing agency, with a role selling our services, creating and executing full marketing strategies and plans to small to mid-size businesses. In 2011, I arrived at Schneider Electric in their global marketing department. For my first 6 years with the company, I worked within the US team, supporting the Electric Utility segment, Oil & Gas segment and medium voltage equipment. In November of 2016, I joined the global Industrial Automation marketing team supporting the Water & Wastewater (WWW) segment.
Q: Why do you think it is important to communicate about water?
A: We all hear in our daily lives that water is a precious resource, but as I have learned in the past two years within the WWW segment, those of us with access to clean water is something to be thankful for. Certain regions around the world are highly impacted with water scarcity. It’s incomprehensible to me that we still have, in 2019, millions of people without access to clean drinking water.
Communicating about Schneider Electric and how we are partnering with industry leaders to improve the efficiency and reliability of water is a positive step in the right direction. Personally, I see it as being a part of something bigger, something that is making an impact on communities worldwide. It’s important to continue to educate the public and support the industry as improvements are made slowly but surely around the world. We are a part of that shift, the positive change, so it always feels productive from the communications perspective.
It’s incomprehensible to me that we still have, in 2019, millions of people without access to clean drinking water
Q: How has the social media phenomenon influenced the way of communicating about water?
A: Marketing, in general, has changed drastically since I started my career almost two decades ago. I can even look back 6 years ago and see a big change in how we utilize digital technology, social media and all the tools behind it to engage our audience. We can become much more personalized with our communications with the intent of giving customers only the relevant information that they need to make better buying decisions. In turn, they are more successful in their businesses.
Q: What type of water news do you think the public is most interested in?
A: Our customers are interested in hearing about completed projects, specifically the challenges of other water or wastewater operations; what is driving the change, the issues that have been solved and ultimately, the results from after the installation was completed. The challenges of our customers are not usually unique, so the overall solution we bring to our customers and partners can always be duplicated.
The challenges of our customers are not usually unique, so the overall solution we bring to our customers and partners can always be duplicated.
Q: Lastly, could you highlight one of your company’s communications success stories or a water-related communications success story you found interesting?
A: Schneider Electric has continued to lead the digital transformation in the water & wastewater industry. We have had many recent impactful customer successes that highlight our unique partnerships around the world.
One success that stands out is the expansion of the Fujairah desalination plant, one of the world’s largest operating seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) plants, located in the Middle East. We partnered with Acciona Agua to provide reliable fresh water supply for the area which was previously plagued by algal blooms (red tides) causing water shortages. With implementing a complete EcoStruxure solution for our customer, they will now be able to keep maintenance costs low, effiency high and will reduce Acciona’s OpEx for the next 10 years. After installation, the plant has shown an increase of 23% additional capacity for reliable fresh water supply to the City of Fujairah.
Another interesting customer success is at the Punta Gradelle wastewater treatment plant in Naples, Italy. We partnered with Veolia to implement a sophisticated plant inside of a tunnel, which now serves an estimated 140,000 people in the area. With our EcoStruxure for Water & Wastewater solutions, we brought flexibility to the unique setting and increased operational efficiency by 10% by integrating process & energy data, reducing response times, redundancy and systems interoperability. This solution is currently being replicated at another wastewater treatment plant in Italy due to the success at Punta Gradelle.