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Meet Sindhuja Rajamaran, the world's youngest CEO!

Last updated on: March 24, 2011 13:20 IST

Meet Sindhuja Rajamaran, the world's youngest CEO!

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Shobha Warrier in Chennai


Sindhuja Rajamaran is quite unlike other 14-year-olds.

When girls of her age are attending school during daytime and playing in the evening, she sits in the chair of a chief executive officer, and draws.

She runs Seppan, an animation company, and has a team of five members now.

Sindhuja's journey from an ordinary school girl to the CEO of a company started when she was around 10.

Her father Rajamaran, an avid animator and cartoonist, was working as a health inspector for the Tamil Nadu government (he now runs Oscar Animations and Multimedia, an animation training centre). He decided to teach her animation when she was 10 years old. Life has not been the same ever since.

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Image: Sindhuja Rajamaran runs Seppan, an animation company.
Photographs: Sreeram Selvaraj
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"When I looked at my father creating characters and animating them, I got excited. It was great to watch him do that," says Sindhuja

"Seeing my interest, he first taught me the basics of animation like tools and how to use them, and then how to create a character and animate it. I enjoyed animating. Initially, I traced the characters created by my father and animated them. By 11, I started creating my own characters," Sindhuja adds.

In those days, there was no play for Sindhuja after school; she would go straight to her father's centre and start practising.

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Image: A Sindhuja creation.

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Only after nine in the evening, did she open her school bag to complete her homework. "I used to look forward to going to the centre and start working on the computer. Those three hours would pass off in a jiffy and I used to forget everything, including my loads of homework."

The first character she created was a school boy for a project for her father's department. The project was, 'TB is curable'. The story had a school boy, a doctor and an old man. In six months' time, the project was completed.

Last year, Exnora, a non-governmental organisation, was planning an energy saving awareness programme on October 10, 2010 (10-10-10). The NGO, in collaboration with Sindhuja's school, wanted to make a 3-minute animation film and, naturally, Sindhuja got the job.

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Image: Sindhuja with her team at Seppan.
Photographs: Sreeram Selvaraj
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To create history, and get into the Guinness Book of World Records, she was asked to make the 3-minute film in 10 hours. She took leave from school and practised for a long time.

Then, in front of the media and people, Sindhuja started drawing at 12 noon and finished it by 8.30 at night. Instead of 10 hours, she made the film in eight-and-a-half hours. She is waiting for a response from the Guinness Book.

"I was not tired at all; I was just excited that I was going to do it in record time. I didn't notice who all were there at the mall to see me work. My friends said they were all there but I didn't see anyone; only the characters were in front of me. I felt extremely happy when I could finish it so fast! After I finished it, I was given a memento by the Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin."

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Image: An animated design by Sindhuja.

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Based on her performance, she was declared the fastest 2D and 3D animator by the powerful IT industry body Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies) at the Gaming and Animation Conclave 2010 in Hyderabad.

Her next major achievement was becoming the brand ambassador for Corel software. When the Indian representatives of Corel software came to meet her father as he used the software a lot, they saw Sindhuja working on the computer, using Corel.

They were so impressed with her work that she was made the brand ambassador for the software.

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Image: Sindhuja Rajamaran, the 14-year-old CEO.
Photographs: Sreeram Selvaraj
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Seeing her exceptional work, she was invited to First Planet Information Technologies where she met Kumaran Mani, the CEO.

"He called me and my father to his room and after a few minutes he told me, 'you are going to be the CEO of an animation company'. I could only open my mouth and gape at him. I was speechless. At that time, I didn't even know what a CEO means. I didn't know what capital is. He then asked me to choose a name for the company."

It was Sindhuja's elder sister, who studies Japanese and even writes poems in that language, who chose the name Seppan. Seppan means entertainment in Japanese.

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Image: Hollywood actor Will Smith, as drawn by Sindhuja.

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On the October 13, 2010, First Planet launched Seppan with Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million) and Sindhuja as the CEO. She was only 13 then. She turned 14 in January this year.

"I was totally blank and nervous that day. I couldn't see anyone except Kumaran Mani Sir. I was asked to click the mouse and that was how Seppan was launched. I had only one team member then and he had already created a website. Now my team has 5 people. Kumaran Mani told me that I do my work first and slowly he would teach me what is expected of a CEO."

He also told her that before she turned 20, the turnover of the company should be Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million)!

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Image: A Sindhuja creation.

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The first project Seppan got was for First Planet Technologies. Now Seppan has three animation projects, including one for Exnora and another for a jewellery shop.

Today, after sitting on the chair of the CEO a few months, she is not so speechless. "Now I know what a CEO does. I know what team management is. I know what profit is. I also know Seppan is a private limited company. I am learning what a CEO is every day. I am happy that my team members do not treat me like a child or dominate me. They consider me their equal. We have weekly meetings and we discuss and plan our projects."

What did she do with her first salary? "I gave it to my father and also gave a small portion to my favourite God, Murugan. My father opened an account for me and put everything in it. He says, it is my money and I should save it."

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Image: Sindhuja with Corel executives.

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Her ambition: Go to Vancouver when she turns 18 for higher studies on animation and then come back to her job as the CEO of Seppan.

"I want to employ as many animators as possible in my company so that they won't work for foreign companies. I also want my company to have a turnover of Rs 1 crore by the time I turn 20."

Her biggest high: "After reading an article about me in a paper, a small boy told his parents that he also wanted to be like me. I felt so happy that I can be an inspiration to other boys and girls."


Image: An animated design by Sindhuja.

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