Business Administration - Finance
Graduation Year: 2002
The Backyardigans, Grossology, Scaredy Squirrel, Sidekick – If you’ve got kids or any knowledge of children’s television, at least one of these programs probably rings a bell.
Pipeline Studios, co-founded by Juan Lopez, is the animation team behind all of these high-profile shows, including The Backyardigans, which counts two Emmy Awards among its many accolades.
Juan’s Canadian business success story began in 1997, when he moved to Canada from Colombia. His family left in search of better opportunities and chose Canada for its cultural reputation. Sheridan’s standing as a leading academic institution led Juan to enrol in the business program.
His first jobs following graduation were in finance, investment and insurance, before he entered the banking sector. Juan then moved to the CB Corporation, an online game software developer, serving as Managing Director.
It was an economic report that led him to choose a career in the animation industry. Toward 2025: Assessing Ontario’s Long-Term Outlook outlined the global economic importance of the creative cluster for Ontario’s future, says Juan.
“All I could think about was Sheridan’s reputation in the animation sector and how I should have studied animation! I quickly realized somebody had to manage these animation studios while artists focused on all that wonderful creativity,” he says.
So Juan teamed up with Mac Holyoke (Animation, Classical 1983) who had hired Juan’s brother back in 1999. (Luis Lopez is a 1997 Sheridan animation grad.) Mac became Juan’s business partner and executive producer of their new company, Pipeline Studios. Mac and Juan had the opportunity to be the first animation studio ever on a Sheridan College campus, as part of the SPARK business incubator program. Originally housed in at the Trafalgar Campus, Pipeline is now based in Hamilton.
“Mac, an award winning artist with over 25 years of experience; my father, with international business knowledge; and me with a financial and tax management focus came together to form the perfect team,” Juan recalls.
Juan, who is also on the Board of Directors for the Computer Animation Studios of Ontario, maintains a strong connection to Sheridan, turning to the college for talent. He says about 70% of Pipeline Studios’ 120 employees have a Sheridan background.
Most recently, Pipeline has partnered with a research team at the college to advance stereoscopic 3D technology. He says the home-grown partnerships that have been created in his business are very rewarding. “It’s been a lot of fun,” says Juan, who earned an Economics and Finance degree from the University of Western Sydney after leaving Sheridan.
His favourite part of his job is being able to apply creativity to his financial and business skills. Remaining innovative in the way we use technology to express creativity is key to moving the animation industry forward, he says.
Regardless of what the future holds for the animation field, finding strategic partners remains an important part of career-building in this industry, maintains Juan. “Everything is about teamwork these days,” he says. “When choosing members of your team, consider their character and find people you can work with.”