Having recently relocated to Hong Kong from NYC, Minerva Tantoco, CTO, Client Facing Technology at UBS, manages the complexity of tech changes while emphasizing the positive social changes tech can bring.
CWHK: When did you become interested in IT?
Minerva Tantoco: My original plan was to go to med school. But I fell in love with computers while doing pre-med study--I was in a statistics class where I had a chance to use computers and statistics software.
Eventually I switched to cognitive science that allowed me to study the mind with the use of computers. I never looked back. Besides learning to create software programs for language processing, I also wrote fun stuff like games for my programming assignments.
CWHK: What people and things inspire you in your career?
MT: Primarily, female leaders in business and technology such as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Emerging innovations from young tech entrepreneurs—such as those I met through the Kairos Society —also inspire me. These young people started their own companies while still in college [Editor's note: The Kairos Society is an international nonprofit organization of entrepreneurs and innovators from top universities around the world].
CWHK: What is your career goal?
MT: I set interim career goals for myself, while my long-term goal is to continue to work where I can provide a personal touch and facilitate positive changes in the world. Getting promoted to a particular title—such as CEO—isn't my goal.
CWHK: Have you ever considered starting your own tech company? Why or why not?
MT: I actually helped start a tech company in Silicon Valley when I was in college. That company was sold to Computer Associates five years later. Now I enjoy my work and the people working with me. Also, I'm in Hong Kong—one of those exciting cities in the world—that I'd like to explore more.
CWHK: How long have you been in Hong Kong, and why here?
MT: I moved from NYC to Hong Kong last September because UBS transferred my role to Asia. The CTO role is a global one, so I had already worked with people in Asia Pacific and other regions before my relocation. The only downside is that now I have conference calls at night because of time-zone differences.
CWHK: How is working as a tech professional in Hong Kong different from that in the US?
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