My Interview with "Lianhe Zaobao"
Below is a English translation of my interview with Singapore’s Chinese Daily Newspaper “Lianhe Zaobao” published on 11 July 2011. Click on the thumbnail below for the original scanned version.
Leaving computing for concert production
In 2007, having just graduated from the School of Computing, Nipuna Perera entered an IT company. Recalling his first job four years ago, a humourous and cheerful Perera shakes his head saying: “Those were the three longest months of my life.”
He thought of resigning every day, but where could he go? “At that time, I felt there were only those few choices – if it is not marketing, it is banking.”
Hailing from Sri Lanka, 28-year-old Perera’s father is a banker and his mother a financial accountant. In secondary school, he studied mathematics, accountings, finance and computing, studying e-commerce computing (in NUS) in 2003. Due to his love for rock music, Perera volunteered at the NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA , in short), helping to organise student art activities/events. Formed in 1993, CFA’s purpose is to raise the cultural vibrancy on campus, and manage many student arts groups. He says: “Although it was a lot of fun, I saw this only as an interest and never thought this could ever be a job.”
Recalling his work at the IT company after his graduation, Perera said: “During that time, I was constantly frustrated, yet I didn’t know what suited me. One day, I returned to NUS for dinner and, while queuing, unexpectedly bumped into the CFA staff member who was in charge of my volunteer group. Hearing my situation, this staff suggested I apply for his job from which he was leaving. At that time I thought, why not?”
Although it seemed late in hindsight, it was actually happened quickly. Despite a lack of relevant experience, having to start at the bottom, plus a lower salary than his IT job at the time, Perera was past caring about these. Returning home, he sent in the relevant materials, made it through the interview and entered CFA, continuing to stay on for three whole years, leaving last September.
Compared to the three long months at his IT job, these three years seemed to pass in a flash. This February, Perera launched his artist management company “The Fallez”, aimed at finding and promoting local music talents in Singapore. Despite having left CFA, Perera still reminiscences fondly about it: “I was very happy during those three years. I got to helped out at the ExxonMobil Campus Concerts, NUS Arts Festival, and the ChildAid concert. My colleagues at CFA taught me a lot about management and I met many who shared my passions and values. To me, these experiences made up for the differences in my background. I am grateful to CFA, and especially that day when I decided to have dinner at NUS and meeting up with my senior there.”
Doing what he loves
Seeing their son’s happiness in his work, Perera’s parents did not oppose the change in his career at all. He said: “My family and relatives are mainly doctors, lawyers and engineers. That year, I was the first to go into computing, and now I am again the first to venture into the arts. In Sri Lanka, many parents expect their children to take on traditional careers. It is the same for virtually all of my friends. I am grateful to my parents for this freedom. I also want to prove to them, that besides being happy at this job, I will also strive to make it sustainable.
A friend of Perera’s who went into the IT line three years ago would now be earning two to three times what he is earning now. However, Perera feels that to do a job that one loves is invaluable. His namecard carries the symbol of a fallen angel. He said: “The “Z” in “Fallez” is actually a fallen “N”, and a link to my name. This symbol is designed by a Malaysian friend of mine. She draws well, but is actually a dentist!”
Perera pointed out that among the many in life who are searching for their passions and interests, he is lucky to find the point which balances it all for him. What is his aim next? A PR since 2007, Perera says, “If you asked me this question five years before, I would not have been able to answer you. Now I can tell you my dream. I want to become a well known producer, and I am now working towards that.”