Stand Out From The Crowd

This interview I took when I was working in Geo TV in 2012. This interview was posted on Geovision website. I am sharing some chunks of the interview over here for my readers.

beenish saleem 1“Each day in the world of news makes you a strong person,” says chirpy, quick-witted Beenish Saleem.

Since she used to come in the night time bulletins, it’s save to say that she was the nocturnal face of Geo News. She is co-operative, humble and knows her work very well. Beenish started her career as a sports reporter from Lahore but before she realized, her luck played wonders with her and she became a news-anchor.

Geo Vision brings you up-close to Beenish Saleem whose outspoken and casual nature defines her true self.

Madiha Akhtar: Why you choose to be a news-anchor?
Beenish Saleem: Well, it was by chance. I was into reporting before and maybe because I used to speak well, therefore I landed into this profession. But I would still say that it was just a mere coincidence. However, people watch you on television and gradually you earned face-value by becoming a house-hold name.

MA: How did you enter the field of news anchoring?
BS: I graduated in Journalism studies from Beacon National University Lahore and joined the field as a sports reporter. It was my previous channel that gave me an opportunity to divert my career into news-anchoring. Later I become a part of Geo News as a full-fledged newscaster from July 2009.

MA: According to you, three qualities that are needed to become a successful news anchor?
BS: For me, firstly one needs to be well-versed; one should also look presentable and finally to be extra alert as even a second’s distraction can cost more than you can imagine.

MA: Do you think that looks are given more importance than knowledge for being an anchor?
Unfortunately, it’s a dilemma that our newscasters are mostly looked as newsreaders, our news audiences are wide and they cannot be fooled. It’s true that presentation matters but it’s not the only criteria to rely on. Change is inevitable nevertheless, but at the same time I want to add that we (news anchors) are the people who register the reporter to the minds of the people. In fact we are also the ones to bring story to the public.

MA: Who is your inspiration in anchoring?

BS: Barkha Dutt and Poonam Sharma from India; they are my inspiration only because I can relate to them as they have also started their career with reporting. They had to face more or less same struggle as any Pakistani female journalist has to go through.


MA: Give one positive and negative point of being a news anchor?
To be precise; you earn screen value as people recognize you which is the brighter side of being an anchor. But this is also one of the downsides because people relate to you and if any news disturbs anyone, so the news-anchors are blamed and ultimately they have to bear the brunt of the viewers’ revulsion.

MA: While doing live bulletins, did you face any mishap?
Yes, once a housefly entered the news studio and alas! In the entire place, she found my nose to sit on! I was giving my OC (on-camera) that time and therefore I had to be static for around 30-40 seconds. I cannot even remove the fly from my nose (sigh). It was an awkward moment for me because it came out very bad in front of camera.

MA: Your most memorable moment while doing news bulletin?
(Thinking hard) for now, there is none I think it is still to come.


MA: Any news that made you speechless or gave goose bumps? How did you recover yourself?
BS: There are many issues including the assassination of Salman Taseer, and even Malala issue that grabbed the attention of International community; these were some news that really gave me goose bumps. However, it was the death of veteran actor Jamil Fakhri which really made me speechless and I started weeping but then with the help of my control room, I collected and composed myself soon.

MA: What has been your favourite news that made your day?
BS: Shoaib-Sania wedding ceremony, an interesting story as the bride was from our neighboring country and it was nice to be part of something like this. Furthermore, the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was a treat to watch. Even though these kinds of news are not implied to journalistic ethics but they spread happiness.


MA: Among noted personalities in news channels, who is your favourite one?
BS: Najam Sethi, he is not bias, his views are balanced and he presents an informative program.

MA: In present lot of politicians, who do you think is the rational one?
Former President Asif Zardari… I reckoned him as a true politician who knows what he is doing.

MA: Other than you, who has been your favourite anchor in Geo TV?
BS: There are two anchors that are my favourites, first is of course Danish Anis Sheikh. He is one such anchor who has the potential to do everything. He is basically a character anchor (she grins widely). The other one is Muhammad Junaid, who is also very good at his job.

MA: Are you a planner? Do you have any goals?
I have to learn a lot because learning is a life-long process for me. It’s just the beginning and more work needs to be accomplished. My aim is to make my own individuality, simply to stand out from the crowd.

MA: How was your experience working with Geo?
: Overall, it’s been a rocky and bumpy road, but a great journey so far.

MA: To the readers, what you want to say?

BS: Stop being judgmental please! There is some heart-wrecking news which also sends shivers down to our spine as well. Don’t judge us from outside because at the end of the day we are also ordinary people who are just doing our jobs.


Four Tips To Spend Less And Save More!

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Be it education, travelling, shopping or maintaining social lives, people spend more than they make. An increasing number of health experts believe that stress, especially financial stress directly affects people’s health and well-being. As a result, it’s no surprise that spending less and saving more is touted popular resolution this year.

Since 2018 is about to end, here are a four ways that will help you get on track financially:

Creating a budget. It’s important to keep a track of one’s cash flow, which means how much money coming in and going out. If you don’t have a budget, so it’s time to sit down and create a budget and work according to it. Some expenses are constant such as utility bills, groceries and conveyances charges, but there are unforeseen expenses such as wedding gifts or travelling. It is also possible to monitor your monthly and annual spending with the help of several free budgeting apps such as Hysab Kytab: Budgeting Expense and Saving Tracker as well as Moneypad (which can be downloaded on Android or iOS). This will make sure your money goes where you need it, instead of trickling away when you aren’t paying attention.

Shopping frenzy. Overspending is the worst enemy of your monthly budget and savings. The ongoing sale festivals are excellent distracters on a bad day, but these will leave a huge and permanent hole in your pocket. Impulsive shopping will buy you happiness for a limited time, but will deplete you of the most essential resource that can indeed help you on a rainy day. It’s also important to establish a difference between needs and wants during shopping.

Cutting down on eating out. If you are trying to save, dining out every weekend or twice a week will leave you with a zero balance in your account. So from now on, try to dine out just once a month or prepare a lavish meal for your friends and family at home, this is cost-effective and a healthier option. Another way to dine out economically is keep a track of all those eateries that offer family-size and mid-night deals.

Planning for a rainy day.  Medical emergencies, pricey expenditure and inflated utility bills can come at any time in life. After budgeting the daily expenses, keep a certain amount aside for a rainy day. If you have only one source of income, this is the time to make your passion or hobby into a profit. This will help you improve your income but also expand your emergency fund.

Meat One Campaign ‘The Meat Experts’

Writing in one of the finest magazines of marketing and advertising, Aurora, has been a great experience. The article which I am sharing here is my second one for the magazine. It is about the campaign that Meat One, the premium brand of Al Shaheer Foods, launched in July, that aimed at repositioning the brand.

Below is the link of my article that I wrote for this campaign. The article is based on an interview with the brand and agency teams.


Eliminating Power Theft (Published Write-up)

Electricity theft is a major cause of revenue loss and circular debt in the case of Pakistan. Power theft alone costs hundreds of million dollars every year to electricity distribution companies in Pakistan.  It is obvious that electricity crisis cannot be handled without combating rampant electricity theft in the country.

A solution has been tried in Karachi, Pakistan where the power utility of the city, K-Electric, according to the media reports has installed Aerial Bundled Cables in kunda-infested areas. With these cables, it is impossible for power thieves to apply hook connections and also ensures proper supply of electricity to the houses, saving electrical equipment’s from short-circuit.

Below is the article  that got published in Business Recordera leading financial daily in Pakistan and the first such publication to be published in the Muslim world. The publication is owned by the Business Recorder Group which is one of South Asia’s preeminent media conglomerates.


If the pic is unreadable so you can also click the link below for the  readability:

Happy Reading!

Transmission Up Gradation-Solution To Power Crisis

P.S. I wrote this writing piece three months back but didn’t post on my blog but right now thought to share

Power crisis is prevalent issue in Pakistan. Persistent power load-shed, power theft and power overload are some of the persistent issues that have caused a drastic impact on thek-eLECTRIC developing sectors as well as general public at large.Summer season is the worst period for people of Pakistan because one observes a major gap between power demand and supply, resulting in prolonged hours of load-shedding or power breakdown in domestic sectors whereas, the crisis has left a negative impact on industrial growth and economic development on a large-scale.

Federal and provincial governments are trying to play a role in meeting the energy needs of the nation. Recently, Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif has made statement about ending power load-shed by 2018.According to his statement, total electricity production will increase to approximately 30,000 megawatt by 2018, which exceeds the country’s requirement.

A cursory glance on the ground reality reflects a different picture of what has been promised by Khawaja Asif. Let’s  have a look on the existing fact; the installed capacity in Pakistan is 24,375MW, however, last summer the demand was exceeded up to 16, 890 MW which was higher than expected available supply of 16, 441 MW.  A broaden gap in demand and supply, subsequently people bore prolong hours of power load-shed in entire country.

Power sector relies on three fundamentals; generation, transmission and distribution and synchronization in its operation enable smooth power supply across country. The government has founded several power projects to enhance power generation in a bid to counter power crisis. For this purpose solar, hydro, nuclear and coal resources have been used to generate electricity. The focus of present government in overcoming power crisis is to increase power generation, by adding more than 18, 000 MW in national grid during its tenure. But then question arises is power production the only element to overcome power crisis?

Considering power generation instrumental in ending power crisis reflects lack of comprehension on part of government. Without up gradation of grid stations and transformers, an inconsistency has been observed in power load which subsequently causes power tripping and as a result, the citizens suffer prolong load-shed predicament.Power tripping and power breakdown occur due to several reasons; however, there are two basic causes; firstly the electric wire fails to tolerate the load coming from power station and secondly power theft due to illegal hook connections. Transmission losses due to outdated infrastructure and power theft have worsened the situation.  The benefit of power production will only be observed when transmission and distribution network will be upgraded, subsequently reduction in line losses.

K-Electric’s recent initiative ‘TP-1000’is a stepping-stone in improving transmission and distribution of power across Karachi.TP-1000 is a transmission project,under which transformers and grid stations will be upgraded. The project includes addition of eight new grids, expansion of 21 existing grid stations while more than 400 new feeders will be added to provide better power load management across the city. It will allow 33% increase in power transmission while meeting the future requirements of the city.

With KE’s privatization, the company has invested in power generation by adding 1010 MW in grid. It has conducted massive anti-theft drives to eradicate the menace of power theft, including raids on daily basis, monitoring affected areas and cutting off illegal connections. Due to these immediate measures, the line losses have reduced from 35 percent to 24 percent since 2008. This project will complete in three years and after its completion, Karachiites may witness a reformed power transmission in coming days.

Power generation, alone will not solve power crisis, transmission and distribution have always been the backbone function of power sector, and improving its infrastructure will have a direct impact on the company’s efficiency. Following the footstep of KE, government should also reconsider its decision and works towards improving transmission and distribution network by upgrading state-run power grids and transformers with the long-term goal of enabling uninterrupted power supply to every citizen of Pakistan. As the saying goes, “The journey of thousand miles begins with a single step”.


Planting Mangroves-Initiative of WWF with K-Electric

Mangroves are significant for ecosystem as it acts as a shield against tsunamis or flood and sea storm. Considering the climate change  and its impact, WWF and K-Electric took an initiative to plant mangroves at the Karachi’s coastline.

Below is the article that got published in Pakistan and Gulf Economist (PAGE)-a leading financial magazine of over 40 years

P.S. This is something I wrote it down for my office purpose (Or in other words, for my corporate client) 🙂

article mangroves






A Unique Turnaround: Moving ahead against all odds


KE’s Turnaround: Online

 ‘‘With hard work and passion, nothing is impossible’’- this adage truly defines the story of the only power entity of Pakistan which has emerged as a benchmark for other electricity suppliers in the country. There had been a time when the company was in shambles; endless cycle of unannounced load shedding, power breakdowns along with ever-increasing bills disturbed the lives of the inhabitants of the city.  In fact prior to 2008, electricity was considered a rare commodity. Once power would go out, one had no other option but to wait for its resumption.  Meanwhile, complaints about these frequent power outages used to go through a long and tedious procedure without positive results. However, it all transformed drastically after 2008, when K-Electric (formerly Karachi Electric Supply Company) went through the process of privatization. The entity took up the challenges and with its renewed approach on key strategies as well as noticeable differences in the services created a positive difference in the lives of millions of residents of the city.

After privatization, some of the major issues that KE had to deal with were frequent load-shedding, line losses and power theft. Despite against odds, the entity took up challenges and managed to work on each element. The first step the management took was to overcome the problem of load-shedding.  An uphill task, so to speak, the company came up with a segmented and scheduled load-shed plan so people could plan their lives accordingly. The plan was implemented on the basis of electricity theft and non-recovery of bills according to which the entity categorized areas into four types; low loss, medium loss, high loss and very high loss areas. K-Electric’s representative cited, “Low loss areas face 15 percent power theft; the occurrence of electricity theft in medium loss areas is above 15 percent but less than 35 percent. The city areas with losses over 35 per cent are termed as high loss localities which are subjected to load-shedding of longest duration.”

Energizing a population of 20 million, KE is the only vertically integrated entity that manages generation, transmission and distribution of the electricity to the city. With its privatization, over 1 billion dollars have been invested in enhancing the entity’s core functions. KE has increased its generation capacity by 1,010MWs. In 2009, the power demand had stood at 2,200 MW; however, lately it increases to 3,000 MW recently, and is growing every year. The current installed capacity of KE is 2,345MW whereas the total available capacity from both internal and external generating stations is 2,745MW. Further a power purchase agreement with National Transmission and Dispatch Company was also signed according to which 650 MW electricity being provided to the city.

 Growing demand of Energy

Considering the growing demand of the energy in the city, the utility has improved the efficiency of power plants. The Bin Qasim Power station-I (BQPS-1) has gone through rigorous rehabilitation resulting in recovery of up to 50MW and improvement in efficiency.


K-Electric Generation Plants–A success point behind KE’s turnaround: Online

Similarly, an additional 220MWs has been incorporated with the successful implementation of Korangi Combined Cycle Power Plant. Meanwhile two open cycle plants of General Electric’s Jenbacher engines (220 MW and 180 MW GE JB) are converted into combined cycle power plants. Moreover with the addition of 560MW state-of-the-art combined cycle; the Bin Qasim Power Plant Complex becomes the country’s largest plant, with an installed capacity of 1820MWs which is a landmark achievement in local power sector.

Furthermore, KE has been working in converting the power production from biogas to coal.  The power entity intends to take full advantage of the lignite coal reserves in Pakistan and wants to shifts its energy reliance on coal based plants. With the construction of coal-fired boilers on 2 units of BQPS 1 in association with Harbin Electric International and recent Coal Conversion Project of 420 MW at Bin Qasim Power Station 1 as well as foundation of 700 MW coal power plants at Port Qasim in collaboration with China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) would assist in power tariff reduction by utilizing low cost fuel sources for its electricity generation, hence overcoming the increasing electricity demand of the port city of Pakistan. Chief Executive Officer of K-Electric, Tayyab Tareen stated, “These projects will contribute to KE’s fuel diversification strategy and marks a significant step towards a new era of cheap base load power in Pakistan.”

In view of all these measures conducted by the entity, Karachi has become the only city in Pakistan where all industrial zones as well as 60 percent of the city is exempted from load-shedding.

Curbing Transmission and Distribution losses

Curtailing menace of power theft has not been an easy task. After KE’s privatization, massive anti-theft drives have been conducted to curtail losses, including raids on daily basis, monitoring affected areas and cutting off illegal connections. Following the measures conducted by KE team, a major reduction in transmission and distribution (T&D) losses has been observed since 2008. Over the years, the entity has been able to increase reliability of transmission network, signifying a 2.7percent reduction in transmission losses along with rehabilitation of 189 km of Extra High tension (EHT) lines. Meanwhile initiatives such as High Voltage Distribution System and installation of Aerial Bundled Cables (ABC) have reduced T&D losses from 30 percent to 24 percent since 2008. According to KE’s estimation, 1 percent of loss reduction saves around Rs. 2.5 billion.

K-Electric Core functions--Transmission and Distribution: Online

K-Electric Core functions–Transmission and Distribution: Online

It is pertinent to mention here that KE is one of the first companies to use ABC in its electric power transmission and distribution system. These are overhead power lines that use several insulated phase conductors bundled tightly together with a bare neutral conductor in contrast to traditional practice of using uninsulated conductors separated by air gaps. ABCs provide protection against short circuits caused by external forces (such as wind or fallen branches), hence minimizing the voltage fluctuation and breakage of wires while enhancing the life of Pole Mounted Transformers (PMTs). This project has proved to be one of the most effective solutions for power theft reduction.

Customer Centricity

KE becomes the first ever distribution facility in Pakistan to have earned an ISO 9001-2008 accreditation for improvement in the functions and operations, attributing quality in customer care and satisfaction.

Before 2008, the customer service department faced severe criticism for its slow operation in addressing complaints by the customers. Nevertheless, after privatization, the entity has shifted its focus towards improving interactions with its consumers in a structured manner. The management has emphasized in creating efficient platforms and alternate channels; the company invests in expanding state-of-the-art call centers and streamlined call handling through Primary Rate Interface (PRI) lines; established ISO-complaint server room and increase in the number of customer representatives. The staff in customer centers acquires full-fledged training in dealing with consumers in amiable manner.   Moreover, complaints are handled with utmost priority; several alternate channels have been upgraded such as email, website, SMS and social media so that consumers can have an easy access to the company. Twitter is a clear example of the entity’s modernized service where the team instantly replied to any concern or queries. Shamaila Abdullah, a banker and consumer of KE, expressed her elation over KE’s improved service. Sharing her experience, she said “Last month, there had been a severe power outage in my area; unfortunately my land-line was dead at that time so I thought to complain on twitter through my mobile. I got surprised when I received an instant response on my twitter account where the KE team informed about the fault in my area. ” Then she added beamingly, “Guess what? The electricity supply resumed within an hour.”

Besides to provide more real-time feedback to the customer, SAP has been integrated with the system to allow for better data management and enhanced communications with other business related units.

Further SMS facility provides customers with an additional means to access K-Electric. Through 8119 number, the customers can be proactively informed about the major developments in regard to faults, load-shed schedule and shutdown along with monthly billing details.

 Financial gains

With the growth in core functions, KE has managed to produce profitable figures in short span of time.  In 2008 revenue generation was PKR 85.2 billion, which jumped up to PKR.195 billion in 2014. In the three previous fiscal years, its average annual loss had been Rs.15.33 billion while things changed, as in FY14, it earned a profit of Rs. 12 billion. With these figures of profit, the entity reflected quite a success story as recently it had received FT/IFC Transformational

K-Electric embeds its foundation as a profitable entity: Online pic

K-Electric embeds its foundation as a profitable entity: Online pic

business award for its exceptional financial projects, subsequently becoming the only utility in the energy sector to have won international recognition of this stature.

Success Story

KE’s turnaround story has not only stirred the country but its success also echoes at the International level where Harvard Business School introduces a special course ‘Corporate turnarounds’ where students are taught through case study designed around KE’s revival.

KE’s revival has been a story of optimistic approach and unwavering determination. The turnaround of KE has also become an exemplar for the present government as on one hand, it has embarked on privatizing state-run power suppliers whereas on the other hand, the government has adopted the policy of exempting industries from load-shed. Considering all these achievements, it is evident that the entity has surely come a long way from a loss making entity to a profitable one.