Hanns Windele: You have been with Open-Silicon since 2003, becoming President and CEO in 2014. That was a tough time to take up that job. Did you apply for it?
Taher Madraswala: In the Q4 board meeting of December 2013, I was offered the job. It was a surprise and my first reaction was to decline, because I didn’t think I was ready. A board member then took up the interim position. The board asked me again a few months later, and I said I’d take the job and on the board’s request I did, although there was an interim CEO at that time. While I did accept the position, we also agreed that we’d go out and look for a CEO. We spent a few more months searching for one, but the board decided not to bring in anyone from outside. So, in April 2014 I was given the title of President and a year later in April 2015 I was asked to take up the CEO. This time I didn’t refuse because I’d had 18 months in the position and was more comfortable running the company and my face was becoming familiar in the industry.
HW: What was it that eventually changed your mind?
TM: For ten years I had run the company from the inside, managing the resources and the business. But I was not the external face of the company. In this business, I believe that you need a leader that is recognised in the industry, because as a services company people will give you the job if they know you. I started going to the CEO events and people started to know me. And that’s when I knew I could take the title and not jeopardise the business of the company.
HW: What do you think has contributed most to your success in career?
TM: I think following through on my commitments has helped me get through tough times and good times, too. That’s what I attribute my success to.
HW: Is there an example of this?
TM: When I joined Open-Silicon I was part of the inner circle that came up with the idea of finding a way of making ASICs affordable. But when we decided to start the company, I was in the middle of a project at Intel. The team were insisting: ‘let’s go and get funded.’ But I requested that I couldn’t because I’d been with Intel for 11 years and had a commitment and I had to finish that job. But the founders of Open-Silicon said that if I didn’t join at that point I would not get the title of ‘founder’ and that carries a lot of weight and has shares attached to it and so forth. But I stuck by the project at Intel, finished the chip, and then joined Open-Silicon. I didn’t get the founder title and I didn’t get the shares either. But that’s okay because I still feel good about my decision and I sleep better at night.