Team Interviews: Joren De Wilder
--Joren De Wilder: Business Relations & Finance--
Joren De Wilder is in his final year of his Master of Electronics and ICT Engineering Technology at the University of Leuven. He is responsible for the corporate relations and the Finances in the Solar Team.
What is your motivation to take part in the Solar Team?
“Already in high school I was interested in technology due to my studies Science-Modern Languages. At that moment I wanted to know how things worked. Because of this, I also wanted to study something that allowed me to design and create my own projects. That is how I came to study Engineering Science at Campus Group T. From in my first year I knew about the Solar Team. However, I thought at first that it was reserved for the students with the best grades. After a couple of years I saw an application form for the Solar Team and tried to apply… successfully! I also specifically chose this function, as I wanted a function that had a strong focus on contacts with different companies and management. This way I could offer something extra to my degree."
What does the function Company Relations entail?
“The most important part of corporate relations starts in the beginning of the project to look for as many partners and sponsors to help our project in different ways, either financially, technically or with materials. We do this at the beginning of the project since at that moment the former team has just taken part in the World Solar Challenge, and therefore it’s still really big in the media. Because of this I go to a lot of companies that might be potential sponsors to do a small presentation of the project or a one to one meeting. This way they have a good image of our project and they can also see how they can help us. As a counteroffer, we also go to different trade fairs that our sponsors are on. This entire function is therefore closely related to my other function in Financials."
And what does that function entail?
“As the title says, I am responsible for the finances of the Solar team and keep my eye on all expenses. All departments keep an eye on their proper expenses, but I am the only one that has the full financial picture. Before I did this function I only had basic knowledge of accounting so I was helped most of the time by former Solar Team members. Apart from this, there is a large financial consultancy firm that is sponsoring us to whom I can go with my different questions. With my function I am also in the “small board” with the different department heads and the project manager. When making decisions, I am also mostly the one with the critical voice regarding the budget. Sometimes it’s easy to buy parts readymade, but many times this is not feasible financially."
What is the most important thing you have learned from this experience?
"By being part of the Solar Team, I have already had a lot of contact with different companies and was able to build a network that I can fall back on when I graduate and start applying for jobs. By doing the corporate relations I have also learned to deal with stress and deadlines. I have also become stronger in presenting for companies. In the beginning this was difficult, but now it has become a second nature. With this overall function, I have also learned how to manage a team, which will come in handy later on."