Sanjay Khimesara: A Pioneer in the Animation Industry
Sanjay Khimesara
Sanjay Khimesara | Founder | Chief Executive | Horizon Institute of Design (HID)

Our Media and Animation Industry has progressed so much that an average human cannot tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not. However, it took a considerable amount of time to reach where it stands today. There was a time when it was only considered for kids, and a career in the prominent design industry was just a bleak thought in one’s mind. Nonetheless, these pages have turned drastically today.

Such a development wouldn’t have been possible without the contribution of eminent leaders who molded the industry to become what it is today. Among them, we present Sanjay Khimesara, the Founder and Chief Executive of the Horizon Institute of Design (HID) & Business Partner Arena Animation at Geeta Bhawan Square, Indore(Arena GBS).

We’re privileged to bring forth his journey and contributions that shaped the Media and Animation Industry.

  • Please introduce yourself and your journey as an educator, to our readers, and also tell us what inspired you to choose design studies as a career?

I am Sanjay Khimesara, founder & Chief Executive of Horizon Institute of Design & Business Partner of Arena GBS, Indore. While doing my engineering, I explored my inclination towards creativity. After studying Engineering and later while doing Management, I was advised to pick up good jobs overseas. Contrary to most of my batch mates, I chose to stay back, look after parents and do something innovative in Indore. I was evaluating various options, including plans to set-up Manufacturing but finally, choose to venture into Skilling the youth and picked Design, Media & Entertainment Vertical for Training & Placements.

After doing a lot of research and market analysis of Sectors in different cities, I came to the conclusion that this sector has the potential to grow as Sunrise Sector in the future and considered the option. Despite due support and encouragement of parents & wife, I consider this a very bold decision.  As a first-generation entrepreneur, it was never easy to plan an investment in the non-conventional and technology-intensive academic venture, particularly when there is no past track record available. Opening up of the Indian economy, growing competition, increasing unemployment were some major factors considered towards the foundation of this D-School.

I had a firm belief in the technological revolution, so I finally decided to navigate the rare way of opening a Design Venture with a focus on new-age creative segments like Computer Graphics, Animation, VFX, Digital media, Gaming, etc.

  1. Pertaining to your experienceof more than 26 yearsin the education sector, according to you, how wide is the scope of studying design or a career in this sphere?

Scope and Potential in this sunrise sector of Design are as vast as one’s imagination power. Our specific focus is Media & Entertainment Sector. My experience and ongoing growth suggest that going forward; this sector will grow exponentially and play a big role in content produced using animation and CG effects. The Average Indian Media consumption today is 4.5 hours a day, which is 9 times of US. While the growing demand for local content continues to be a key driver for the growth of the industry, the demand-supply issue for trained talent still exists.

Recognizing this industry as a significant user of technology, and to play a seminal role in developing domestic design, we formed local creative groups to catalyze the growth of the industry, do community building and also established an interface with the state government.

The Indian Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry is making high growth strides. Proving its resilience to the world, the Indian M&E industry is on the cusp of a strong phase of growth, backed by rising consumer demand and improving advertising revenues. The industry has been largely driven by increasing digitization and higher internet usage over the last decade. The Indian advertising industry is projected to be the second-fastest-growing advertising market in Asia after China.

The Media and Entertainment Industry is set to expand at a CAGR of 13.5 percent over 2019-24. We are expected to touch around the 3.07 Lakh Crore mark by 2024. Hence this sector is expected to blaze a trail, outpacing most other segments.

  1. Tell us more about your ventures, their vision, and offerings.

We established Horizon Institute of Design, Indore in June 1997 & became business partner of Aptech’s Creative school Arena Multimedia at Geeta Bhawan, Indore location in Sep’97. Today we are known as pioneer, leader & trendsetter in Central India and most trusted destination. We offer job-oriented skill-based certification programs through Arena Animation in various sectors of Media & Entertainment. In 2016, we became a Training Hub of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, School of Vocational Education (TISS-SVE), to offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Design. We were selected as Premier Partner of Media & Entertainment Skill Council (MESC) for World Skills India Training to groom creative talent as per global levels. Autodesk also gave their ATC status to us, and NSDC’s Sector Skill Council MESC also partnered with us.

During over two decades, we have trained & placed thousands of students. All the skilled students trained by us are well placed in leading Animation Studios, Production Houses, Gaming Companies, Ad Agencies, Web & Digital Companies, Design Companies, Educational Content developers of India & abroad, as per their interests. We aim to bridge between Industry & academia by providing skills as per Industry Standard.

To provide quality training, we have some of the finest, expert-level faculty. Our strength lies in strong Industry connect; Outstanding Placements track record & alumni connect. We have a glorious track record of 50+ Awards & recognition to Centre, including Golden Pixel Award, Trailblazer, Captains, Icons in M.P. amongst other Performance Awards.

Students have bagged 100+ Awards for their amazing work via films & contests & Alumni have extraordinary credentials, including Credits for 6 Oscar Awards (including a hat-trick of Oscar Credits for Best Achievement in Visual Effects during 2018-19-20) & 4 National Awards.  Along with State-of-the-art infrastructure at our Campus, we have Social Incubation Studio to provide exposure on live projects & 150+ Internship tie-ups with local companies as On-the-job Skill Knowledge Providers.

  1. What is your opinion on the role of technology and modern tools in design schools as well as other mediums of education?

Currently, Technology & Modern tools are playing a crucial role in shaping the ideas of creative people. Going forward, design technologies will play a big role in the content produced. This alone will be a game-changing paradigm for future productions.

  1. As an entrepreneur, what challenges have you faced while building your ventures in the education domain?The initial phase was quite tough. The biggest challenge was to find creative aspirants and convincing them as well as their parents about the advantages and benefits of such skill-oriented training. As we were amongst pioneers in such training, finding appropriate local experts as faculty was also difficult. Another major challenge was to create awareness as an alternative job-oriented Career Option. Even finding local opportunities in Industry and placing trained students was a big task. Convincing various educational Schools/Colleges for conducting Seminars, Contests, Workshops for their students was a big task.

Traditionally, every Indian parent perceived their wards as becoming Doctors or Engineers or Charted Accountant when they grew up. So, it was very difficult to convince them about new-age careers in Design, Media, and Entertainment. People even had a myth that this is a non-serious career and usually connect it with kids only. It was only after we trained and placed our students in a few top-notch companies globally, people started having trust and awareness towards this alternative Creative Careers option.

Today, the dominance of Art combined with technology is evident from the fact that FICCI & NASSCOM created forums and even top Design and Technology schools like NID and IIT have adopted it in their mainstream programs. Even there are now 100+ Design Schools in India. Another big challenge was developing and sourcing more and more local opportunities.

Since Sector is skill-oriented, quality training helped several students to not only fetch good jobs but even get freelance projects. Some of them even started their own set-ups. We take pride in finding credits of our students in hundreds of super successful outputs related to the Films, Television, Games, OTT, Ads, etc.

  1. What would be your advice to the aspiring entrepreneurs of the education sector?

    Before venturing into design education, one must ensure to possess conviction towards the career. One must avoid entry if the purpose is just an investment. This industry is very demanding and needs a lot of sensitivity towards students and requires the utmost level of service orientation.

All successful visionaries have been Passionate and have love towards the medium. While imparting education, one must stick to the basics and focus on core areas, including Training and Placements.  Deploying experienced Mentors, Strong exposure via Industry experts & having patience is the key attributes to success.

  1. How have you envisioned your future in terms of exploring new ventures, expansion, or the introduction of new offerings?We believe that to date, we have just touched the tip of the iceberg. We have a long way to go and have many other accomplishments to fulfill. The future plans include setting up a Residential Campus as Design College, and we are working hard to make Indore as the hub for Design. Our future plans include a significant contribution to the eco-system and ensure the success of creative talent up to World Skill Competitions. Indore is sure to see a lot more in Design, Media & Entertainment in the coming years with Arena GBS(HID) around.

We dream of not only taking the creative sector at the forefront for solutions to crucial problems but want to bridge new opportunities for the youth trained in this lucrative sector. We also plan to contribute to Skill development initiatives of Government and remain as a leading training provider of Central India.

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