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Inheritance, Esprit de Corps, Collaboration

F.Y. Teng | Nov. 4, 2010
Ciscos MD for Singapore and Brunei Irving Tan on the value of job experience, team building and tapping mature markets.

Tell us about your work experience leading up to this position and how it helps you on the job today.
Well, my career actually began at Exxon Mobil Corporation, where I spent six years as a management trainee. Even though I was an engineer by training, the first job I had was in finance, and that goes into marketingso I ran the service station business in Singapore. I did shipping and transportation. I did sales and I did planning in corporate as well and then after about six years I did my MBA and I went on to work as a management consultant at a company called A.T. Kearney for six years, during two of which I focused primarily on the oil and gas industry. That was my background. Then it became a bit boring because I wanted something new and exciting and being a gadgets guy I started to dabble in the technology space, and over time I focused a lot more on the telco sector, and thats kind of where the transition to Cisco happened. I was recruited by Cisco initially for their consulting arm. We have a consulting arm called the Internet Business Solutions Group that does consulting for our key clientsthe top ten customers we have in the region. And then I moved on to do enterprise sales for Asia, and strategic planning for Asia and this country job. I concurrently hold both roles still today.

How has that experience benefited me? The broad-based experience I gained at Exxon Mobil prepared me well for the general management position because I know how to finance things. I know how to prepare and to have a conversation at their speed, and I kind of preempt the questions they have.

The sales experience has been very helpful because at the end of the day Cisco is a very efficient sales machine, and our job is to sell in whatever role were in. And the management consultancy experience has really given me the ability to move from the tactical short-term deliverables to do strategic thinking and planning. We learn not to look shortsightedly at an opportunity and consider only what it means to us in the here and now, but rather think deeply about where we can take it in the next three years or longer. I dont take that perspective only on specific deals. I also look at whatever were doing from a country organisation point of view, where my goal is to grow Singapore from what it is today to twice its size over the next three years. And getting that result not just by doing what were doing today, but achieving that by adopting and rolling out new and innovative services solutions and business models. I think Singapore is the perfect environment to do that because we have a very supportive government that is always encouraging industry and encouraging local enterprises to embrace technology, to embrace innovation. It also helps enterprises in their efforts to create new services solutions that could be exported.


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