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SI Group's Challen Banach has global outlook in Niskayuna

SI Group's Challen Banach has global outlook in Niskayuna

Company's applications include pharmaceuticals, plastics, oil and gas, tires and others
SI Group's Challen Banach has global outlook in Niskayuna
Marketing Director, Challen Banach at SI Group headquarters in Niskayuna.
Photographer: Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer

Challen E. Banach knows chemical brands.

As senior marketing specialist at SI Group in Niskayuna – the company's corporate headquarters – Banach makes sure SI's oil field customers know all about company products.

There are bunches of products. SI Group applications include pharmaceuticals, plastics, oil and gas, tires and others.

The company, previously known as Schenectady International and founded in Schenectady in 1906, has more than 2,800 employees working in 20 manufacturing facilities worldwide. The firm sees more than $1 billion in annual sales.

SI Group employs about 430 people in Schenectady County, between its Niskayuna operation and a production facility in Rotterdam Junction.

In 2016, SI launched a portfolio of chemistry for the oil industry. Increased effectiveness and efficiency for oil operations remain the portfolio goals.

"Our chemicals help to reduce the amount of wells needed because each one running is more efficient," Banach said. "Since launching those products, we've continued to grow our portfolios. I work on the market research side and also the product launch, trade show, web site."

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Photos by Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer

Banach began her career with SI after her junior year at Siena College, in May 2012. The internship, in regulatory affairs, was extended into Banach's senior year.

Banach graduated in May 2013 with a degree in marketing. She began her full-time career with SI, as a strategic marketing analyst, the following June.

Banach has also worked as a communication coordinator and brand and communications coordinator before she received the senior marketing specialist assignment in August 2017.

Banach knows chemistry, and works with the chemistry scientists on the SI payroll. She also invests time with SI customers.

"We work with a variety of different companies in the oil industry and market to them," Banach said. "One of the things we're seeing with our customers as well ... in the past, chemistry was a very relationship-driven industry. But now we know companies have to get more savvy with their marketing efforts.

"Our customers are looking for information via web site, publications, trade journals, different opportunities to get information before they even talk to our salespeople."

Banach said two of the SI product lines she works with are "Reziflow," a portfolio of demulsifier components – products are used for oil-water separation. "Ceriflow," Banach said, is the SI portfolio of flow assurance chemistry products that ensure wax does not build up in pipelines.

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The SI job has given Banach, who graduated from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School in 2009 and now lives in Niskayuna, the chance to travel. Recent business trips have included Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom. In the U.S., Banach has spent time in oil country – Houston, Texas.

"I was looking for somewhere that would offer me a global experience, that's something that's so great about coming here," Banach said. "We have colleagues traveling from all over the world. My team has colleagues in Thailand and the U.K, I've been fortunate to get that experience."

Banach works on other projects when she's not on duty for SI. She joined the Capital Region Chamber's Executive Mentorship Program in 2014 and is now the program chairwoman.

"The program connects young professionals in the area to seasoned executives," Banach said. "I've been so fortunate to have amazing mentors throughout the community. Chairing the program, I'm happy to share those opportunities with others."

Banach is also involved with the chamber's Leadership Tech Valley, an interactive program that provides skill development and community immersion experiences.

Banach also makes time for yoga, at Power Yoga New York in Niskayuna. "You can find me there most of the time," she said.

Banach is glad to be on her chosen path.

"I definitely would say I'm internally driven," she said. "I just pulled out my high school yearbook, there was a section of letters from your parents and everyone's parents are like, 'Oh, we're so proud of you, this is so great.' My mother just wrote, 'Remember us when you make your first million.'

"She knew it was a milestone in a much bigger journey," Banach added. "She knew me growing up when I wanted to be a fashion designer and make my own clothes or have a lemonade stand. She knew I valued success."

At 27, Banach can expect more success in the future. Maybe even that first million.

"Not yet," she said. "I'm on the way to paying off student loans."

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]

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