SILVERLAKE INTERVIEW

Oh, I remember the time spent preparing for and producing this interview.

I was slightly more nervous than usual – firstly, as I was gonna meet the founder and chairman of a software giant, who is a billionaire. The interview was done just weeks before he was included in Forbes list of top ten richest in Malaysia (thank goodness, else I’d be even more nervous), thanks to shares of his Singapore-listed Silverlake Axis Ltd (in which he owns a majority) which has doubled in the last two years.

Secondly, I was doing the interview for both TV and print, and hence comes a slight confusion of how do I exactly approach the interview. For print, I usually like to take my time to explore questions at length. But this does not work for TV, as TV interviews are usually capped at max ten minutes long – so it’s either you explore just ONE issue, or you keep the whole thing short in general.

The interview with Mr Goh Peng Ooi (GPO) lasted an hour and a half long.

I came prepared with a list of Q’s mainly for the listed company – as my print editor wanted the piece to be on the company, for investors’ interests. But, (luckily), I did also prepare a few personal Q’s.

On the company, amongst the few Q’s I asked on: if its faster bottomline growth compared to its topline growth or lack of contract wins perhaps is a concern, recent Finzsoft acquisition to penetrate Aus and NZ further (?), and how does Silverlake deal with slower economic growth in the region.

The interview wasn’t quite a usual one. GPO is afterall a brilliant mathematician, and many of his answers were so deep and not quite straight to the point, often relating it back to the flow of time where intelligence is the ultimatum… that I too got confused.

Half way through, realizing GPO did not quite want to answer Q’s on the listed company and said to ask the CEO (GPO is the chairman) instead, I switched gear to asking GPO on his personal side of things. Time was running out already then.

Back in the office, transcribing the interview was no easy feat. For TV, as there were two cameras, I noted down the transcription from both cameras – the time slot up to the second of which Q&A do I want, which camera’s angle to use, etc. Took me a good few hours at least.

Structuring the interview for print and TV was another thing altogether. As GPO did not want his response on the listed company to be published, I had to be extra careful with this.

For the TV interview, I pushed up the bits on his personal side and included the business bits as a background (using voice over). I had to re-look and edit the script countless times as well, to re-tighten and cut away answers and more answers. For the print interview, I had to use my email interview with the CEO Dr Raymond for most parts of my piece. I was writing for the corporate desk after all. I also proposed a little piece on GPO’s personal bits to my print editor, fortunately (though I wished I could amplify this part).

Anyhow, a month after the interview, my printed piece was published in TEFD on March 30.

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Image sent by a friend — at least someone read my piece!

But the thing here is… A week and a little more after, StarBiz came up with a full blast cover story on GPO with the title: “Kampung billionaire.”

You can imagine how bummed and disappointed I was! I was surprised, also, because Life Inspired (part of The Star) just interviewed GPO two to three weeks before I did, and got published after — though that was in the middle pages of the booklet.

More importantly, though, I wondered silently inside why did my publication not place as much importance to the piece as what the other publication did. We both had the same content and take-aways from the interview, it’s a matter of how one “plays it up”.

Thinking back, when I first secured the interview, I had in mind to pitch it to the print editors to be a cover story. But I did not, I don’t know why. It would have been brilliant, I thought, as GPO was a fresh face in Malaysia’s top ten richest, just as shares of his company continue to hold up and rise despite the aborted mega bank merger, which was expected to be its catalyst.

Anyhow, what’s done is done. The interview, for both print and TV, could have been done and refined better, of course, but when will it end? Though I wished there were a little more guidance, as the Q’s and content were all self-driven. From reading through the company’s latest annual report, quarterly report, analysts’ coverage, and other press interviews.

This is the webcast interview that was published after my printed piece. (For other videos I’ve done, please refer to the ‘videos’ page on my homepage)

The video editor must have been sick of me sitting beside him narrating (countless times) how I want this one ‘second’ bit to be cut out, which facial expression of GPO to be used, what to be replaced by graphics, footage etc. Sorry, Khairul! Haha.

Not every interview is going to be easy, I realized. It’s through crafting something out of (what you may deem as) ‘nothing much’ and something hard to understand – that I find this interview rewarding; despite the many bits that could have been improved.

It was a privilege to have sat down and spoken with GPO, thank you for your time.

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