Science has been integral to Kenneth Tan's life from a very young age. Biology and Chemistry captured his curiosity because of their relevance to daily life, and at the age of 19 he graduated with a Diploma in Biotechnology, served two and a half years of full-time National Service in the Singapore Police Force, and then went on to complete a degree in Business Administration.
But prior to this he took the unusual step of joining the National (Army) Cadet Corps at the age of 13, an age when as he says "most would choose to go out and have fun, but I decided to join an organization that would instill discipline and leadership." The time he spent here has shaped his leadership and introduced him to what would become his personal motto: “The impossible we do right away, miracles take a little longer”.
He describes healthcare as his "calling". "Few people are blessed to be in careers that allow them to apply their academic knowledge in what they do daily; I have not looked back since I started my first job as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative selling cardiovascular drugs," he says.
After this he moved into MedTech, joining Boston Scientific just when Drug-Eluting Stents were about to revolutionize cardiology. Following this, he joined Covidien, who was a leader in surgical instruments; their technology drove the widespread adoption of minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery. Covidien was acquired by Medtronic in 2014, and Kenneth served as the Managing Director of their Thailand and Indochina business before joining Varian in January 2017.
"In my 20-year career, I have lived and worked in many countries and I have learnt that ethical, fair, kind and transparent leadership transcends boundaries; be it language or culture." he says. "The power of diverse teams is undisputed; we unlock this power when everyone is made to feel included as an equal."
At Varian, he encourages teams to go out and inspire all cancer care-providers to treat as many patients as possible with the best quality care possible. "I call this ‘Inspiring Customer Success’. We are only successful when our care-providers are successful at delivering the best possible care to the cancer patients they serve in their communities."
Additionally, Varian works closely with international bodies such as the International AtomicEnergy Agency (IAEA) to make advanced treatment systems more readily available in developing and emerging economies. Varian’s Access to Care program provides education services to ensure local communities have the highly trained technical personnel and specialized clinicians they need for radiation treatments; to date they have provided more than a million dollars in radiation oncology training in countries like Vietnam and Myanmar.
“Everything we do at Varian is driven by our vision, mission and culture, which includes a strong belief in people coming together and taking care of each other to achieve the company’s objectives. We put the patient at the centre of everything we do, and we measure our success by the number of cancer patients’ lives touched annually.”
"Our culture drives people to do this. But although we are technology company, our focus is to make customers successful, and inspire them to deliver high quality care to patients. When customers aspire to deliver the best possible care, they will come to us for solutions, because we enable them to do that. This make us special compared to other organizations."
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“Sometimes automation is seen as a panacea. We see it as one of a number of solutions, not a silver bullet.”