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Gary Foong – an addiction to Tarzan pills?

Gary Foong, co-founder and CEO of Singapore-based Donovan Systems, has a passion for building things – from storage subsystems to Linux servers and Linux labs and building up Donovan Systems from a two-man office in 1992 to a company valued at US$100 million at its highest.

Gary FoongGary Foong, co-founder and CEO of Singapore-based Donovan Systems, has a passion for building things – from storage subsystems to Linux servers and Linux labs and building up Donovan Systems from a two-man office in 1992 to a company valued at US$100 million at its highest.

Can you share with us the contributions you’ve made to the IT industry?
The achievements that have given me the greatest satisfaction are helping colleges and universities in South East Asia and China to set up Linux labs to teach 64-bit Linux programming, and partnering with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to develop the world’s first 64-bit Chinese Linux operating system.

We have also formed a new company with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to develop the first 64-bit Linux server for China, which meets the needs of the Chinese government and agencies for a secure national IT platform.

What helps you to sustain the passion for your job?
Like any other entrepreneur, I enjoy the 'unexpectedness' of everyday events, including new technology and even the challenge of an economic slowdown. Knowing that what we do benefits people and society, and contributes to the development of countries in the region is really exciting for me.

From the beginning, I have always wanted to build things. So far, I have built storage subsystems, Sun compatible systems, 32-bit and 64-bit Linux servers, RAID storage subsystems, workstations, and helped to create the 64-bit Chinese Linux OS, as well as Linux training programs and Linux labs.

Seeing your products being accepted in the marketplace, meeting customers’ needs and helping them reduce their costs, can be very fulfilling.

What are you core values regarding money and business?
Honesty, sincerity, always delivering more than expected – these are the guiding principles of my business philosophy. I always believe that “you reap what you sow” and it is important to treat other people as you would want them to treat you. I also believe in passing on skills to my staff, and it gives me a measure of pride to see them being headhunted to work for MNCs and advancing in their careers.

How do you define success? Do you consider yourself to be successful?
I don't think I can consider myself “successful”. Then again, success is relative for different people. I would say you have attained success when you can live your life to the fullest and not have to worry about your day-to-day expenses.

Any role model whom you look up to?
I admire all successful business people, especially those with a "rags-to-riches" story. If you really want me to choose just one, then it must be Mr Sim Wong Hoo who made Creative the number one sound-card company in the world. I believe that when he started to market his products in his early days in the US, no one believed he would be so successful, especially someone from a small country like Singapore.

What is your biggest regret?
My biggest regret is not getting married earlier and becoming a father. Then again, I believe God has always had a plan for me in life.

How do you relax?
Spending time with my loved ones and watching videos at home. Recently I have also had a lot of enjoyment playing golf with my friends, enjoying the scenery and fresh air.

Which in your opinion is the best place in Asia to hold a cozy business meeting?
On the 87th floor of the Jin Mao Building in Shanghai, enjoying a drink and admiring the 360-degree view of the city. No wonder they call it “Cloud 9” – you feel as if you’re sitting at the top of the world.

Which Web sites do you visit most often? What kind of books do you read?
My favorite Web sites are news sites like CNN, AsiaOne, TheStar, SCMP, and numerous portal sites in China. I like to read about the local news in each country where Donovan has operations, to help me to understand the issues, culture and politics. I also visit a wide range of IT-related sites to keep myself abreast of the IT trends.

As for books, my favorites are management and marketing related books. Learning from the best companies in the world in how they manage and market their products is like taking Tarzan pills – you feel empowered to achieve great things so that you too can beat your chest and shout about it to the rest of the world.

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