At 12 years old, an age when most are just playing computer games, Mr Max Tan had already written the code for his very first computer game.
“There is joy in creating something new, and in seeing it work,” said Max, who went on to study Computer Science at university.
That joy has not diminished for Max. Now 38 and working at online job portal Indeed, he shared proudly: “The impact, scope and reach of what I create now has expanded to reach millions.”
Indeed is a leading global job site, with over 250 million unique visitors each month who peruse international job opportunities that are added at a rate of 9.8 roles every second.
Max joined Indeed Singapore in June last year as an engineering manager. Back then, the company only had five employees. A year on, the set-up has grown many-fold, and now employs more than 110 people.
The impact, scope and reach of what I create now has expanded to reach millions.
– Max Tan
Max’s managers saw his potential from the start, and this has seen him come a long way in the year that he has been with the company. Shortly after he joined, he was sent on a three-month job rotation to the company’s Tokyo office to learn about different parts of the business and to experience working in a different culture. He also spent time at Indeed’s offices in Seattle and Texas in the United States, to observe how managers lead and mentor their teams.
“It helped me understand the work done in different sites and how to get things done more effectively,” said Max. “More importantly, I built relationships with people so I’m not just another name in an email.”
CONNECTING WITH A MULTINATIONAL TEAM
Max has recently been tasked to lead the International Growth team at Indeed, a role that requires a higher level of product research and collaboration with global teams than in his previous role. He also manages a culturally diverse team, whose members come from countries like New Zealand and the Czech Republic.
The global exposure he received has helped Max better connect with his multinational team, from going on runs to playing board games together.
Mr Tomas Libal, a Czech engineer on Max’s team, enjoys the “walking meetings” that Max has with his team. “We always end up getting bubble tea near our office,” he shared. “Max is always available if I need to consult him on any issues. And I like that he puts a lot of trust in me.”
Max has learnt to draw on the strengths of his six-member team even as he mentors them – and that building personal relationships based on sincerity can be a win for both parties.
“Max really cares about the people in his team,” said Mr Jordan Dea-Mattson, Max’s manager, and the site director (Singapore) and senior engineering director at Indeed Singapore. “He gets that if they’re successful, he’ll be successful and that the more he builds them up, the more he grows.”
The exposure has provided Max with invaluable opportunities for growth as well.
“Every quarter, I feel like I’ve grown, I’ve learnt more. I get challenged with new opportunities or new problems to solve,” said Max, who added that his long-term career goal is to lead an organisation in software engineering.
GROWING THE CODING COMMUNITY
Jordan, a former Apple engineer, shares Max’s enthusiasm for coding, and volunteers his time to promote a culture of coding and entrepreneurship here. He has been mentoring teams at high-profile events like Startup Weekend Singapore since 2016, where coders and entrepreneurs develop their product ideas and subsequently, refine and build them into fully-fledged startups.
“That is my passion,” said Jordan, who moved to Singapore from the US in 2015. “I want to see the software engineering ecosystem and community in Singapore grow.”
According to Jordan, Indeed is committed to Singapore for the long term. The company recently hired eight local university graduates and will be selecting four of them to undergo a year-long training stint in the US. They will return to Singapore as more seasoned engineers who can mentor other new graduates.
Said Jordan: “We anticipate continuing to grow here, continuing to build our teams and continuing to deliver a product that will have global reach and global impact from here in Singapore.”
Read all the stories in our Diversity At Work series.