Robb Report Singapore Thought Leader: Prajna Murdaya, creative arts entrepreneur

“Life is a non-linear journey that’s so much more than achieving one’s goals,” says Prajna Murdaya, creative arts entrepreneur and member of the Robb Report Singapore Thought Leaders community

Not many people can claim to have worn as many hats as Prajna Murdaya. Hailing from Indonesia’s family-run Central Cipta Murdaya—a conglomerate boasting an extensive foothold in real estate, information technology, timbre, engineering and more—he held directorships at Jakarta International Expo (Indonesia’s largest exhibition centre), and a footwear factory engaged by behemoths like Nike and Under Armour, among others.

Spurred by a desire to cultivate creative spaces where talent and ideation could bloom, Murdaya left the family business and founded Shoemaker Studios in 2015. Today, it is one of Indonesia’s leading recording studios, bagging three AMI Awards (Indonesia’s equivalent of the Grammys) for Best Pop Album, Best Jazz Album and Best of the Best, and played an influential role in world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s first solo recital in Southeast Asia.

Now, Murdaya is working on what he deems to be his most ambitious project yet. Requesting that we do not reveal the name at press time, he describes it as a global network of multidisciplinary creative hubs that will encompass the performing arts, media, design and hospitality. Murdaya plans for the first large-scale redevelopment project to kickstart here in Singapore, where a yet-undisclosed landmark site will undergo a radical transformation to become the new creative epicentre for the local industry and beyond.

What’s your life philosophy?

Life is a non-linear journey that’s so much more than achieving one’s goals. Rather, it’s about making a difference in people’s lives. My work gives me the opportunity to interact with talented visionaries who are often introspective and shy. I love seeing them grow out of their shells to share beautiful ideas that they’ve been shielding from naysayers for too long.

What project are you most invested in now?

I’m currently exploring various business models for my upcoming project. It is a multidisciplinary hub that will serve as a foundation to support creative careers. I spend the bulk of my time networking with government agencies or people from within the industry who can both contribute and benefit from the diverse ecosystem that I’m building.

What are you bringing to the table that’s new?

In the creative industry, there’s been an overemphasis on the output of content, potentially at the expense of creatives’ well-being. To use the fable of The Goose & the Golden Egg, rather than picking the goose that lays the most golden eggs, I’m trying to create a global platform that discovers more golden eggs, by ensuring that all kinds of creatives can develop their skills and thrive in a safe, nurturing and supportive environment.

How do you confront the fear that things might not always work out as planned?

Life isn’t a black-and-white situation of risk versus reward. With each new endeavour, I focus first and foremost on what is genuinely worth pursuing, then take small but necessary steps to better triangulate and assess how things unfold, while avoiding major pitfalls along the way. It’s also equally important to have compassion, so that people in an organisation are inspired to look after each other. For this reason, I try to create a culture where people feel safe and know what to expect from the journey ahead.

Photography by Eugene Lee, Enfinite Studio

Hair & Makeup by Sophia and Victoria, Suburbs Studio