Each year, we ask our readers to send in their nominations for individuals in the global Tamil community who exemplify personal success, community involvement and act as an inspiration to others. Here are the top 5 for this year as voted by you.
1. Koby Yogaretnam (Votes: 778)
Koby Yogaretnam is a consultant turned entrepreneur from the UK whose successes include bringing one of India’s most prestigious fashion brands, Pothys, to North America and Europe with highly attended events. He is currently in the middle of launching a mobile app that will help small businesses better promote their companies in an easy-to-use manner from both a vendor and end-user perspective leveraging videos. Additionally, he recently joined Canadian based Ideal Incubator, a Tamil focused startup incubator, to help find the next great Tamil entrepreneurs.
Sivan Ilangko currently resides in Toronto and has built his career around accounting and finance, which he continues to this day as an Associate Partner at Ernst & Young, where he has been an active member of the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® Awards program for several years. He is also very active in the community, holding various roles. To name a few: He is a Founding Director and the Treasurer of the Stouffville Multicultural Association, Co-Founder and Director of the Centre for Leadership and Innovation, a Relationship Manager of Ascend Canada and an Executive Board member of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario. He was also the Vice President – (Internal Affairs) of the Canadian Tamils’ Chamber of Commerce.
3. Kandeban Balendran (Votes: 517)
Kandeban Balendran, currently residing in Colombo is the host of Sri Lanka’s version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ where he has hosted over 250 shows. Having completed his MBA at Victoria University in Australia, Kandee was the former Head of Creative and Marketing of AAHAA FM India (subsidiary of KUMUDAM Publishers), Director of Sales and Marketing at Sri Lanka’s most powerful news provider – News 1st, and is currently the head of Shakthi FM, No.1 Tamil Radio Station in Sri Lanka with an audience that spans the world.
He was also recognized by the Australian Government as one of the “Most inspiring young global leaders of Australia” and was a recipient of “Young Achiever Award” of Victoria University, Australia and 2014 Australian Alumni Excellence Merit award for Business Administration and Leadership, awarded by the Australian Trade Commission. He is the first and only Sri Lankan on the Grand Jury panel of the prestigious New York Festivals and a visiting lecturer and course advisory board member of Victoria University, Australia.
4. Annuj Yoganathan (Votes: 303)
Annuj Yoganathan is an award-winning photographer from Canada. An accountant by profession, he chose to forego his traditional career to chase his passion for photography. Within 2 years, Annuj has developed his company into a worldwide entity and has photographed couples in over 20 different countries, spanning four continents. His ability to capture amazing images have certainly been noticed – he was selected for the ‘Top 30 Under 30 Photographers in Canada’ 2 years in a row.
5. Ramraajh Sharvendiran (Votes: 202)
Ramraajh Sharvendiran has worked in diverse capacities for over five years with LGBTQ+ identified Tamils all over Ontario. His article “Seeking Gay Tamil Man,” featured on Tamil Culture in 2013 went viral and has been crucial in starting important conversations around the intersections of Tamil and queer culture, showing that both identities can co-exist in the same space. Furthermore, Ramraajh was the lead researcher on The Access, Identity and Men (A.I.M) study, a qualitative research study that delves into how racism, cultural expectations and gender impact health outcomes for South Asian men who identify as having sex with men. This study is the first of its kind in Canada, and these research findings have been featured at national and international conferences.