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Changing the day-to-day life of a soldier with Marc Tan
There are two types of people in this world: those who create problems and those who solve them. As an engineer, Marc Tan takes great pride in knowing he belongs to the latter category.

In the process of architecting products, he is given full creative freedom to customize a chosen solution and create value within the greater community in a meaningful way. What differentiates Tan from his competition is his unprecedented ability to solve problems with a creative edge, leaving his clients in a state of awe. Everywhere from visual and structural designs, to marketing pitches and coding software, Tan is all too familiar with how to define boundaries; however, for those he works with, witnessing him break them is the true pleasure.

"Initially, I wanted to be a doctor and to solve problems in healthcare. It wasn't until after a medical attachment at Singapore's national hospital that I realized the profession lacked a layer of creativity that I was looking for in my life. That's what pushed me toward engineering — knowing I could create and define boundaries, but still be as innovative as possible in every aspect of my work. I work in an ever-changing environment, so to be able to create value and satisfaction for others on a large scale is extremely rewarding," told Tan.

Fortunately for him, Tan has done exactly that for the duration of his career so far. Having worked with reputable charities like the Children's Cancer Foundation and NGOs like 42 Silicon Valley, Tan is well-versed in the art of capturing and identifying a client's needs and building a technological solution from the ground up. Take his donation platform, DonorBox, for instance. Tan's experience planning and running charitable events led him to the realization that the donation processes in place were antiquated and could be measurably improved with the implementation of a user-friendly, straight-forward software to make and manage donations. The platform itself has gained significant traction since its inception and Tan hopes to see it continue to grow down that trajectory for years to come.

Tan is also well-known for his tendency to build expertly engineered programs and services around personal interests and experiences. For instance, during his military service between 2015 and 2017, Tan identified a number of inefficiencies in the military's administrative processes. Particularly, after having worked closely with the vehicle maintenance department, Tan noticed that a number of processes could be optimized and ultimately, automated. He wanted to minimize the length of these engagements and minimize wait times for soldiers. This realization led to Tan's decision to build internal systems that are both secure and optimal for the military's use. With that, he had to familiarize himself with the military's existing processes and regulations in order to develop a work-around that would not compromise on the necessary rules in place.

Taking matters into his own hands, Tan proactively sent a proposal to his Battalion Commander outlining the problems he intended to address and how he planned on doing so. His proposal was welcomed and he was assigned to join an innovation team who were focused on improving work processes to be able to minimize the amount of time soldiers spend on time consuming tasks and ultimately, to improve soldier productivity.

Looking back on the projects, Tan recalls a heavy amount of reverse engineering that went into designing the systems he created. Because many existing systems in the military were running on older versions of software, he had to backtrack his own software to be compatible with the existing data. More often than not, this meant having to design and build platforms from scratch due to an inability to convert older data into newer technological tools.

All in all, Tan takes great pride in knowing that he can be credited with helping improve the overall life of a soldier. What was once taking soldiers three hours to complete was now entirely automated, allowing them to shift their focus into other more important tasks. The subsequent cost-savings generated from the use of his newly generated systems was also significant. He was very humbled by the outcome and happy to be able to say he was a part of this change in a soldier's experience.

"The cost-savings from using the new systems were significant, representing potentially millions of dollars per annum. Personally, I enjoyed the challenge of building systems in a military setting. When designing for the military, one has to adhere to an entirely different set of policies and concerns which entail a different paradigm of system design. Instead of following modern practices, issues of security, integration, and network connectivity become extremely relevant, making the process of learning interesting. Knowing that this helped to change the day-to-day experience of a soldier merely reminded me why I love doing what I do so much," he concluded.

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