Extremely good-hearted, full of benevolent feelings, and a balanced mind with a “Never give up” attitude, the foundation of her character, Shiji Sunil leads ABAI - Centre of Excellence in the role of Centre Head. She possesses over 22 years of rich professional work experience in the industry and has been one of the pioneers to start training and production in the AVGC sector.

It is said that once a person’s heart is in the right place, all other leadership aspects fall into place in a balanced manner. The Centre Head of a company functions as the heart of the organization. To be successful, a Centre Head has to balance many functions. Hence, it is important for them to learn how to attain balance in both their inner condition and the many external factors around them.

She heads the Centre of Excellence run by ABAI, a non-profit organization supported by the Karnataka Government and the ITBT sector. Her responsibility evolved from Technical to encompass Management and administration. She believes in pursuing business through Innovation and Technology and her goal is to be an Industry leader by providing enhanced products, services, relationships, and profitability.

Across her career, Shiji got the opportunity to collaborate with global business leaders to drive strategic agendas and consistent performance across different industries. AVGC's Centre Head, Shiji shares immense passion to provide enhanced solutions, and The CEO Magazine in an exclusive interview pooled further insights of her journey, and AVGC. Here are the edited excerpts:

TCM: What led to the coining Idea of joining the industry?

Shiji: Having seen the rapid shift of the mass media and entertainment sector towards high-end technologies that differ heavily from the traditional approach of development and marketing strategies over a decade typically means I had plenty of exposure to some of the challenging assignments. After all, in the AVGC sector, businesses with changing technology can't move into new product lines, services, territories, or markets without the talented pool of people to help lead the change—and often, the first place they look is within their own ranks. From the enormous experience, I have gathered from all walks of life people see me as a trendsetter and an iconic businesswoman in the animation industry which led to the idea of becoming a Centre Head in COE.

TCM: In your entrepreneurial journey, how did you overcome the Challenges?

Shiji: Work-life Balance can be the biggest problem for entrepreneurs, who wear many (and all) hats. If you only had more time, you could accomplish so much more! The solution is ‘Make time’. Ask yourself consistently: “Is what I’m doing now the absolute best use of my time?”

Keeping up with market expectations and technology changes yet maintaining a robust platform challenge meant tight scope control was required. Extra cost and flexibility of team and skills required to support activities

TCM: What do you think your firm’s COE Mission, Vision, and Objective are?

Shiji: Our vision is to develop Karnataka into a leading global AVGC hub in terms of export revenues, projects acquired, and employment created by strengthening the ecosystem to support the same.

Government of Karnataka 7 Goals Strategies Develop at least one tier-2 city in Karnataka as a hub and a preferred destination after Bengaluru for the AVGC industry.

Focus on skill development to raise the skill levels and create a pool of world-class designers, illustrators, animators, CG artists, technical directors, game developers.

Our mission continues the focus on skill development and nurturing of the talent pool by refining and strengthening the existing initiatives with the help of focused interventions.

To create a common infrastructure that will give a boost to local industry, entrepreneurs, and start-ups, and promote high-quality AVGC output from Karnataka.

The objective of AVGC COE is to syndicate and make available the best facilities and technologies to start-ups, AVGC studios, and professionals who find it difficult to fund or access such a high technology stack individually.

TCM: How does your firm differ from the biggest competitors?

Shiji: We are the only State of the Art facility for AVGC with all the technologies under one roof and our operational excellence strategy in COE aims to focus on the work procedures to streamline operations and reduce cost.

Today we talk about ‘META VERSE “ and the Fundamental features to crate the content are installed at the COE like the 200 camera Photogrammetry, Motion Capture, Head motion Capture and we will be soon installing the Volumetric Scan Studio which will make COE one of the sort after places in the Country.

Our COE is a customer-centric organization that allows us to learn and change quickly according to customers’ needs.

Here the production units achieve premium market prices while we engage clients in R&D thanks to the experience they create for their customers.

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TCM: In this journey, what were the Failures the team rebounded and learned from?

Shiji: Of course, COVID -19 shattered the company’s dreams and the financial aspects of the employees and clients as well. Emerging 2022 is a great opportunity to discard the past, find new partners, alliances, technologies, and incorporate all of them together to grow the “new normal” business.

One very important aspect that changed the business dimension during this period is that we developed the Training Modules for the “One of the Kind technology program in the Country”

We utilized the time ob R&D and today we are tying up with top universities to run these programs and engage the technicians in Technology Training and to start a new Revenue cycle.

Sharing a helping hand to our business partners amidst COVID- 19, changing the workspace according to the client needs, keeping track of the most happening industry events, remodelling our marketing strategy helped us win the economic distress.

TCM: How would you define success for the firm? What are the Recognitions it has earned over the years?

Shiji: The Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comic (AVGC) sector will set up a promotion task force with all stakeholders to recommend ways to employ youth and build domestic capacity for serving Indian markets and the global demand, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in the budget 2022 speech on Tuesday. As per the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)-The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), India has less than 10% of the global market share in VFX and animation.

It has been some time since the government has been

eyeing the growth rate of this sector. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) in 2020 announced that it will establish AVGC Centre of Excellence (CoE) on the back of the belief that gamification and animation will become a major export for the country and a wealth generator. Following this promise, the first AVGC CoE was launched in Bengaluru last month. This year, MIB has been allocated a total of Rs 3,980.77 crore by the government.

TCM: What is your role in the organization today? Tell us about your dynamic team?

Shiji: My Role is of a Operations Head, A strategic Manager, A Technology specialist, A Human Resource Head , Procurement – installation- training , Marketing, I operate in all dimensions of the company requirement to Grow this Start up in to a Business Model with different field of experience over 20+ years in varied industries. Having a multi-faceted role in running the center I would like to called the MENTOR .

My dynamic team in COE brings together people with diverse skills to create something that no one person could do alone. A well-planned team improves motivation. Communication is higher on teams, and the diverse skill set means teams can discover new approaches. Because teams have specific shared goals, team members usually enjoy greater autonomy, variety, task identity, task significance, and feedback. Teams often enjoy social support for difficult tasks, improving morale and motivation.

TCM: What is the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?

Shiji: Develop a sustainable ecosystem for animation industries under the Karnataka government AVGC policy using the infrastructure and talent pool in the Centre of Excellence. Support the events conducted by Elevate an initiative of the Department of IT BT, Government of Karnataka aims to provide a comprehensive entrepreneurship platform for startups. We accelerate the fund support programs for the budding entrepreneurs, actively engaging in skill development and mentorship programs for women, addressing the boot camp outcomes for students, and sharing the Knowledge sprint with leaders.

We make it happen by creating and deploying a task force.

TCM: Enlighten us a piece of advice you would like to offer to the young entrepreneurs?

Shiji: ‘Engage others ‘right from the start to join your battle to put your career back on track! As Bill Gates once said -

Being successful often means learning from those who have already achieved their goals. Having a mentor is an amazing blessing to an entrepreneur, but not everyone can find one in person.

Challenge yourself:-Richard Branson says his biggest motivation is to keep challenging himself. He treats life like one long university education, where he can learn more every day. You can too!

Do Work you care about:-There’s no doubt that running a business take a lot of time. Steve Jobs noted that the only way to be satisfied in your life is to do work that you truly believe

Take the risk:-We never know the outcome of our efforts unless we actually do it. Jeff Bezos said it helped to know that he wouldn’t regret failure, but he would regret not trying.

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