IT Leader of the Year, 2016
As a professional who has invested her career in Singapore's Information Technology (IT) sector for the last 26 years, Jessica Tan is both passionate and committed to the industry and its people. She has deep faith that the future of Singapore will be a "future of us" and, as the Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore, she rallies for inclusive growth within Microsoft and in the broader ecosystem.
Underlying the areas she champion is the belief that we need to be empowered with the right skills to actively participate in the opportunities presented to us. To ensure that our youth are equipped with the right skill sets for the future, she initiated the Code for Change programme, a tie-up between IDA and Microsoft to bring computational thinking capabilities to our youth.
As Chairman of the IT Advisory Committee at Nanyang Polytechnic, an appointment she has held since July 2013, Jessica has enabled numerous industry collaborations such as the Cyber Security and Solutions Centre (2015) and the Ambient Intelligence Computing Centre (2015). Under her leadership, the IT Advisory Committee guided the School of Information Technology (SIT) to chart new directions and ensure that course offerings better prepare students for the industry.
Jessica has also called for Microsoft's greater support of the local startup community which is another integral part of the local IT ecosystem. In addition to the Microsoft BizSpark programme that has benefitted close to 1,300 startups in Singapore, her leadership has resulted in Microsoft supporting the startup ecosystem more intimately by being a part of the LaunchPad@one-north, which hosts 500 startups and 35 incubators. She also challenged her team to better mentor startups through the BizSpark Residency Programme, where Microsoft offers 1,200 square feet of complimentary co-working space at the revamped Microsoft Innovation Centre to promising local startups.
Jessica believes in leveraging technology to narrow the opportunity divide within the community. With the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD), she has played a major role in empowering people with disabilities through education and technology, including setting up the YouthSpark Scholarship which has helped 27 youths with disabilities pursue tertiary education in IT-related fields. She has also been instrumental in helping active seniors at the Retired & Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP) upgrade skills which has helped some of them to secure a second career.
As a business leader, Jessica sees diversity as a business and national imperative. As such, she commits to gender diversity at Microsoft Singapore by encouraging greater female participation in the company. This has resulted in a vote of confidence from her team where members described their career with Microsoft as "proud", "excited", "passionate", "great", and "empowered". This collective positivity also earned the team the SCS Best Tech Employer and Aon Hewitt Best Employers Singapore awards in 2015.