Mentor of the Week: Quan Ming Tan


Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m 30 years old this year & I’ve worked for 3 corporates. I started working at Royal Selangor and did e-commerce there. Then I worked at British American Tobacco as a Management Trainee in IT for 2 years. I took a career break and went to Beijing & came back and started working for Shell in Malaysia and Perth, Australia. When I left Shell in June this year, I’d been working there for 5 years already.

Why are you a mentor on FutureLab?

I used to be a mentor at Shell, for graduates. For me, this is a way of giving back. Giving back never stops. FutureLab is a great way of reaching out to others.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to all the mentees out there?

I would say trust your gut feeling. Whatever you do as a degree may not necessarily be what you want to do. So go with your gut feeling. I believe you can always engineer what you want. I started in IT, that’s my background, and then I went to Tobacco and Oil & Gas. Don’t let what people say limit your belief – just trust yourself. Speak to mentors, get advice – these are people who already walked this path. Take this knowledge from them- learn from others.

Did you ever have a mentor?

I had several along the way and that’s why I believe in this. Some of the advice they gave me was to always give back. My mentors at Shell, I would call them guardians – they’ve guided me along the way. They’re people who have spent 30-40 years of their life in a corporate. So they’ve done something right to get where they are today. I find that learning from these people is faster than, say, learning from books or academia or anything else.

 Name one major challenge you faced & how you overcame it?

It’s always people people people. When you work in an organization, although there are certain processes, it’s more about how you get along with people. Have a positive attitude – it plays a huge role. Technical skills you can always learn but attitude is harder to change. Have the right attitude & that will take you places. You need to understand how each and everyone communicates. And never step on anyone’s tail!

What is one tip you’d give to those looking to improve their time management?

You have 24 hours a day. A lot of people cannot differentiate between what is urgent and what is not. Take time to do things that are a priority – don’t set yourself up for failure. Spend time to do what’s important – it takes discipline but once you practice and get it right, it will take you a long way. Focus on what’s important, know what’s a priority.

A mantra you live by?

I try to live everyday as it’s my last because you don’t know when it’s your last. I try to wake up every morning feeling excited and giving the best I can give in everything.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you like to have dinner with and why?

Elon Musk- he’s an inspiration because he’s a visionary. He has a vision and leads people to make his ideas work. He’s also a hybrid – he’s a tech guy as well as a visionary which means he can understand the details as well as the bigger picture. He can zoom in and zoom out and that’s an exceptional quality.

What’s your favourite book?

I don’t have a favourite book. I think every book teaches you a lesson. I’m still on a journey of self-discovery. You learn something new everyday. So any book that would help me learn something new- that’s a good start!

What are the 3 items you cannot leave your house without?

I’m so connected to the world right now it’s hard to see myself being disconnected. When I travel, I need data, so I would need a mobile phone. The rest of it I can live without. I’m pretty minimalistic – if you have the means you can always buy what you need.


Speak to Quan Ming & learn more about his journey here