“If you can understand building blocks, you can enable innovation and empower others to do the same.”
Kenneth Tan knew since high school that he wanted to be a software engineer. It was his love for gaming that cultivated this interest, which harken back to the days of the 8-bit Nintendo and Atari. But what drove him, apart from wanting to win, was a curiosity about how they worked. This keenness to have a fundamental understanding of things has not wavered, and today he is Intel Malaysia’s sole principal software engineer.
Educated at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College in Penang, his career journey began in Singapore as a software developer for a startup company during the e-commerce boom. Following a stint with an Australian smart home hardware company, he joined Intel in 2004.
Understanding systems and improving interactions
A day in the office sees Kenneth honing in on a couple of key areas, with technological pathfinding at the forefront. His focus is understanding underlying mechanisms and making sophisticated technology that is both user-friendly and beneficial for people.
When not researching, he spends time with his team of software engineers, encouraging them to broaden their perspective, mindset, and approach to problem-solving. This includes deep diving with them when they’re faced with roadblocks.
Given his expertise in understanding systems and how things interact and work together, he also drives initiatives with other technologists to improve work processes and existing engineering principles. It’s about constantly asking, “how can we change the way we work for the better?”
The Importance of perpetual learning
“Intel is very much like a university in itself. It’s not a traditional tech company where your task is solely to complete projects. It emphasizes the improvement of soft skills too. You’ll be able to find hundreds of classes on its learning portal. It’s a driving factor for me, being in this environment.”
Kenneth sees Intel as an entity made up of different disciplines coming together. And if one wants to explore different areas, he or she can. It’s this collaborative environment of limitless possibility that continues to make him excited to come to work every day.
“The intertwining of technology with human living is something we’re always working towards – and being able to engage in such projects and work alongside like-minded people is another thing that drives me.”
Passion and professionalism
Kenneth attributes his success to being focused on his interests and a dogged approach to work. He recalls feverishly working for two weeks to complete a project at one point during his early years in Singapore. “I’m a very stubborn person – I either do it right or don’t do it at all.”
“I set out not with the intention to make money, but to follow my passion. And that is always my advice to the young. Follow your passion, but make sure it follows a strong work ethic. Comfort is very often a hindrance for growth.”
From harboring dreams of game development to the reality of researching new and untapped computational technologies, Kenneth’s career goals have evolved over the years. But his passion hasn’t, and Intel Malaysia’s emphasis on having the freedom and environment to explore one’s interests continues to spur him on.
Want to push technology forward like Kenneth? Discover opportunities to join Intel Malaysia here: https://jobs.intel.com/ListJobs/All/Search/country/my/