When he left McMaster in 1996, Tony Tam made a fateful decision.
It was one of those make-a-right-turn-and-your-life-looks-like-this, make-a-left-turn-and-everything-turns-out-differently moments.
The left turn was when Tam – who earned his electrical engineering degree in 1994, then followed it up with a master’s focused on wireless technology – opted for a first job in the consulting world.
Joining Anderson Consulting (currently Accenture), he spent the next four years helping big banks and financial institutions use technology and computer systems to enhance their business processes.
“Ever since those early days, my general job description can be described as ‘building and managing teams to solve problems with information technology’,” says Tam.
“The goal has always been to leverage software technologies to improve operational efficiencies or open the door to new channels of business growth.”
Today, he is Chief Information Officer at the global consumer electronics company Vtech, where he oversees the internal corporate IT functions.
But growing up in an immigrant family that operated a family restaurant business left its mark on Tam, who says he has always straddled the worlds of corporate enterprise and entrepreneurship.
In 2017, he co-founded IJS Technologies, a startup developing technology solutions for the blockchain industry.
“The thing I love most about IT is how it has affected almost every facet of everyday life – and the rate of innovation is only accelerating,” Tam says. “I also love working on projects that require a multi-disciplinary group of people working together to implement or create something.”
He credits a consistent concentration on improvement and goal setting for his success and urges students to adopt that mindset.
“Focus on the process of improvement and making the next day better,” says Tam. “All of us will have times of achievement and failure. Staying focused on progress will keep you grounded and ultimately, you will be surprised how far you have gone.”
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