By Aditya Rajendran (B.E ICE, 2014-18)
Photos by Lokesh Karthikeyan T (MSc. Theoretical Computer Science, 2014-19)
A gander into the path of Mr. Cottalango Leon’s adventure to success
Webster’s dictionary does not define success. Neither do the thousands of others. The case is analogous to the likes of determination, will, resolve, conviction and fortitude. To be able to define something is the ability to completely describe it without omission, and said words represent such immensely powerful traits that are far too significant to be reproduced on mere paper, for they engineer the substance of success, and light the path to it. Attempts to describe them, however meticulously phrased, would be futile.
“A great man is always willing to be little” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The aforementioned qualities are synonymous with Mr. Leon’s path to success, and are vital to the consequences of one’s journey. Stories of success are often of relatively modest beginnings and Mr. Leon’s follows suit. “The little boy from Tuticorin would never have guessed he would make it this far”, he begins. His being appreciative of every single step that led him to the present day being a testament to his humility, his words are nothing short of awe-inspiring. “From the Government High School at Kallapalayam to my undergraduate degree from PSG Tech, my fervor had never dropped, despite the significant language barrier hurdle I encountered here”, he adds. “The reason I’m standing here is my perseverance and will to follow my dreams, which ended up with my undergraduate degree in Computer Science Engineering in 1992. Having always been keenly interested in the visual aspect of movies, I had always wanted to delve into the world of computers and make use of them for this task. After a short stint at Softek LLC from New Delhi, it was time to go all-in.” he says. “My desire eventually led to my Masters degree in Computer Graphics Animation from Arizona State University in 1996. Thankfully, the entire CGI industry was booming at that time and opportunities were ripe for the taking.”, he reveals.
“After a short time programming video games at DreamWorks Interactive, it was only at Sony Pictures Imageworks where I found myself working on a workflow management software called ITView to replace the digital film review software that existed earlier.”, he explains. “Before the boom, when a company had just about 60-100 people, one could just walk up to his colleagues and coordinate various tasks with them. But with companies beginning to be housed in multiple buildings, management of workflow was quite a big problem. That’s where ITView comes into picture”, he says. “The academy award is a culmination of twenty year’s worth of work on ITView, unlike most of the other Oscars which are awarded for a year’s worth of contribution”, he points out. “I was the sole contributor to the project until it attained significant growth, when I was given a team”.
“Opportunities in India have never been better, and the recent startup culture is a testament to that.”, he quips. When quizzed on the impact of his degree on his work, he said, “The undergraduate and graduate degrees only served to teach me the basics of what I needed to know in order to be able to pursue my dreams. You never stop learning. By the time you finish your graduate course, the programming language you learnt would have probably become obsolete, so you need to adapt to survive. Getting your basics right takes a higher priority than diversifying your capabilities, since that helps you focus more on your problem solving skills”, he adds.
“Lastly, I would like to announce the formation of a chair with the help of the Alumni Association, The Principal, and the MCA Department along with a laboratory to help familiarize students with the real-world scenario.”, he mentioned, much to the applause of the gathering. “It certainly has been a long way from the small village in Tuticorin”, he said. “But in hindsight, my dreams would have never attained fruition if it wasn’t for the guiding lights in my life. My parents, teachers, and everyone else that stood by me and made me believe it was possible.”, he says with a proud smile.
ADITYA RAJENDRAN (B.E ICE, 2014-18) is a unique individual with interests ranging from physics and electronics to astronomy and English literature. He is an accomplished gamer and also likes to be up to date with recent advances in prototype technologies.
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