CTS StickerIt's coincidental, but symbolic, that the first two people to gain their CTS®-I and CTS-D certifications in 2016 hail from India. T. S. Gopalakrishnan, CTS-I, (Gopal) and Leo Joseph Thomas, CTS-D, CTS-I, work for different companies but are linked by the relevance they place on training and education, in a country where little to no formalized education is available in the field of AV.

TS-Gopalakrishnan

"The AV industry in India is growing at a very fast pace," says Gopal, who has spent the majority of his 20-year AV career as a systems integrator and now works as Technology Specialist in live event production for Dynamix Media in Delhi. "One of the challenges here, is there are no structured AV courses at any of the universities. Companies have to train their manpower in-house, and that presents certain challenges."

Thomas works as an AV consultant for HMPL Consulting Pvt. Ltd., also in Delhi, doing system design and project management for large multinational corporations, banking and government organizations. He reports that India is the world's fastest-growing market for audiovisual equipment, and is currently the third largest market in Asia Pacific.

Leo Joseph Thomas

"There is a tremendous change in the industry in India," says Thomas. "Customers have become more aware of the latest technologies, are IT enabled and are willing to spend more on AV technology. There is more competition among system integrators and more manufacturers are present in India directly for support and service."

That said, India still lags behind markets such as the United States and the United Kingdom in terms of level of technology acceptability by customers and budgets allocated for AV, he says.

People in the Indian AV industry such as Gopal and Thomas, working in a growing industry where there’s a real need to improve one’s skills beyond what one’s immediate surroundings can provide, are turning more and more to AVIXA to gain the necessary certifications and education. In recent years, AVIXA has made inroads in training, as well as the introduction of standards, in India.

Gopal, an AVIXA member since 2002 and a CTS holder since 2012, says it can be challenging in India to find and achieve appropriate training to develop the unique skill set required for this industry. He, in fact, recently began instructing the one-day AVIXA installation course in India, as a way to use his own skills to help train others. A fluent English speaker, Gopal is able to encourage those less well-versed in English by relating to them in Hindi and helping them better understand the English terminology in the study materials and the test.

"I thought it would be better to have the CTS-I first," he says. "I firmly believe that continuous learning is important, and that those who understand this will undoubtedly grow their organizations. I am also working as a consultant for performance verification, so the CTS-I will help me in getting more assignments."

Since our interview, Gopal has begun studying for his CTS-D, including a nine-day CTS-D "boot camp" in Bangalore. But the accolade of being the first dual CTS-D/CTS-I holder in India goes to Thomas.

Having both CTS-D and CTS-I gives him a great deal more confidence, and also benefits his clients. "I wanted to achieve the next level of professional expertise after the CTS certification as I thought it would help me and my company to achieve our professional goals," says Thomas, adding that in India, for some of the larger AV assignments for multinational companies, CTS has become a standard certification for systems integrators. "These certifications give our clients confidence in our capabilities and also open up many more business opportunities for the company."

Gopal is extremely hopeful about the future of AV in India. He predicts an exponential growth in the Indian market and a lot of focus on newer technologies.

"One of the key things that the present government in India is looking into is developing technologically advanced solutions. These will create a lot of demand for AV in India, and there will be a lot of opportunities for qualified and skilled people to be employed."