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Bridging industries and the institution – talk with the Industrial Relations Kore

As the stage was being set for the eleventh edition of Kurukshetra, the Guindy Times had a brief chat to know how the Industrial Relations team of CEG Tech Forum worked, especially with situations like the demonetisation having taken a toll in the sponsorship platform. Here are excerpts from the interview with Shreyas Ramesh, one of the Student Directors of the IR team.

How important do you think the Industrial Relations team is in the proceedings of Kurukshetra?

When we talk about industrial relations we not only talk about sponsors but also about other non-monetary support. For instance we ask for internships in some cases; we go with partnerships where they don’t sponsor us. How we interact with them strikes deals that are mutually beneficial for the company’s profile as well as our profile.

Looking back, can you name one hard-fought sponsor who came on board for Kurukshetra 2017?

One of our major sponsors who deserve my heartfelt gratitude is definitely Zoho. I must say that was our most hard-fought sponsor because we had our ups and downs, and finally we are on board with them. It is an honour to be associated with them

Was there an initial plan on the nature and types of companies/industries that you had planned to contact for support and sponsorships?

Well, in Kurukshetra, we have a lot of coding events, which are among the most sought-after bunch of events, with a large number of participants. So obviously, getting sponsors for coding events was our number one priority. Hence we targeted IT firms and companies whose work force depends on coding. In a way it worked out this year, as we have got four or five major IT based companies.

How do you get contacts for sponsorships? Is there a particular strategy that is being followed?

As far as Kurukshetra is concerned, we keep a database that is updated year by year. So, our past year Student Directors have collected a number of contacts and we assume that, most of those gentlemen will be employed in the same position for the coming years. Sometimes all we have to say is that we are from CEG and he/she will immediately identify us to be from Team CTF.

Whom do you think was/were instrumental in your functioning?

First of all, I must thank my colleague, Tharun (who is in his final year EEE, and happens to be another Student Director of Industrial Relations). He was instrumental in ways more than I expected. He got his own strategies in place. Yes, we were on a partnership but he was the hard-hitter. The staff were quite helpful; Dr Kalaiselvan, Additional Director – CUIC, is our staff coordinator, and he has helped us a lot in many ways. Our respected Dean has also helped us out in dire emergency situations by arranging funds.

How has the support from alumni been?

First thanks goes to Senthil Kanthasamy anna, whom we call Senti anna. He is working with FreshDesk now, and has been guiding us on approaching sponsors from day one. He was instrumental in getting another IT firm - Bahwan CyberTek.

What, in your opinion, is the skill set required for a person to be a part of the Industrial Relations team?

The most important skill required is quick decision-making. If you are indecisive, this is not the domain for you. I tell this because sometimes your answers to sponsors via the phone must be prompt and crisp. You must be in a position to respond to them very clearly in a quick manner without stammering. Secondly, I think one must be significantly bold. He or she should be in a position to sacrifice the name of self or anything, and prioritise the job to be done. To conclude, I should mention optimism. There will be more turndowns and rejects than acceptances. So, staying positive matters a lot. Perseverance is the key.

How did you approach sponsors? Was it more over phone and via emails, or in person?

It was a combination of the three. Deals with companies not based in Chennai obviously had to be via phone.

What are your expectations for K!17?

For starters, things should not go downhill. I would not say that this has to be the best Kurukshetra ever, because that is relative. But, I would like to see this Kurukshetra as something where people walk home with smiles in their faces at the end of the day, and look forward to the next edition with enthusiasm. This is the kind of benchmark we hope to achieve. Ultimately, it is the participants who are our number one priority.

What are your hopes about K!18?

A big shoutout to my CEG juniors here. I believe they have enormous potential. I think the crowd at CTF will be enough to rest my case. My hopes for K!18 is sky high, it’s going to be much grander and will raise  the bar higher. So, my best wishes go to the juniors. I do not think I worked as much as they do in the last year.

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