Following is the exclusive interview with Industrial Relations K!ore members. Finally, we got the chace to speak to the IR K!ore members, Pooja and Swati of CS department who along with Suraj of Industrial Department have been the lynchpins behind getting sponsors for the mega event.
What is the main objective of IR team?
Finding sponsors for Kurukshetra. We try to create a good connect between the college and industries. But as far as Kurukshetra is concerned, we are more interested in matters of sponsors and interns only. So we try to approach companies to sponsor events, workshops, guest lectures and in turn we give them publicity and interns from final years.
How do you split the work within the team?
Actually all three of us work individually. When we approach a company for sponsorship, we cannot divide the work. But, in turn we split the companies we approach. We make sure that work doesn’t overlap between us. Each of us have a separate set of companies to deal with.
Is there anything else that the IR team does apart from getting sponsorship?
IR also conducts two events during Kurukshetra. One is called ‘Bar Camp’ and the other is 'Startup Weekend'.
How have you improved from the previous version of K!?
As far as improvement is concerned, this time we have tried our best to have more companies for long term relationship in future, project specific deliverables, launch pads and startup weekend.
In making important decisions regarding what you give back to companies in return for the sponsorship they provide, is it necessary for you to contact other teams before making deals with those companies?
No, it’s not necessary, we take the decisions. But, we have to definitely consider the University rules. Like, we cannot get a sponsorship from a tobacco company, our campus being a tobacco free zone. And we have UNESCO patronage for K! So obviously we have to follow those norms. Regarding the approval of a stall for a company, we coordinate with the logistics team, about how many stalls can be made possible. So, we need not contact other teams to take decisions but we consider possibilities and rules.
What would be the general response of companies when you contact them for sponsorship?
We know that there is recession in the market for the last three years. As a result, when we approach them, they tend to tell us, "We're sorry, let’s see next year". They give the same reply every year. If a company gives a sponsor then it would be from two sources. Either as a part of their profit or as CSR. CSR stands for Corporate Social Response.
How do you handle this problem of recession?
We were following the stock market and major economic changes keenly. It was true that companies did not have so much cash. It was more about modifying the budget and not about much companies.
How do you get the contacts?
We search for the database over the past years. We also get the contacts of alumni. For example, attending the CEGAM event and getting some contacts there.
What are the major benefits for the companies sponsoring K!?
In the case of event sponsors, the companies give question sets, they know the students' standard, and students know about the company and their expectations. Media people come for interviews and they take this news to the general public.
Certain products have market in student community. Take for example: cell phone usage is prominent among students. A sponsoring company may display their new arrivals and thereby hope to increase their sales in future. And some networks like Airtel encourage the students to use their services by giving free sim cards. Companies which give sponsors as CSR will be benefited by avoiding their taxes and also in the way getting involved in student activities.
Apart from money what else can a company offer?
Internships. It works both ways – they get intelligent and talented people and we give people the opportunity. If there are any good papers by students during K!, which have the potential to get implemented, then the sponsor company may help that as a project by funding the students.
How do you go about approaching every company?
Every company has a different set up. And it also depends on the way we approach them. For example, there is HR or at times the marketing team would do the job. If we move it through the alumni, then it would happen by internal talks via the alumni.
Do the companies follow up on how their money is spent?
Usually the companies send their people to witness the events and they also meet people from other companies who sponsored K! We also give them stalls, UNESCO report and our reports.
Do you personally meet representatives from every company to negotiate the sponsorship?
It varies from company to company. Sometimes, we go and at other times we just process it through mail and follow up by scanning, sending the required documents. So, it’s not very rigid.
How are the companies assured of the quality of the events?
That is the responsibility of events and workshops team.
What are the standard companies sponsoring K!?
Microsoft, Dell, etc. Sometimes after 2 to 3 years of sponsoring they will leave and they will come again at some other time.
What are the reasons for continuous sponsoring by them?
Last year Microsoft encouraged us by giving Lumia Phones. This year, they have sponsored an event called Tame The Code. It is based on code optimization. Since their problems are meeting solutions here, they are interested in continuous sponsorship.
How has the journey been so far?
Firstly, we have learnt a lot of patience. We learnt to smile and talk to the sponsors with patience even during assessments and end semester. We learnt to set our priorities, to manage our time. What we personally believe is that being an IR K!ore is one of the high pressure jobs. To simply put, we learnt to be a multitasker.