Veronica Tan: Technology That Can Be Trusted

Veronica Tan

ACAMS Today interviewed Veronica Tan for International Women’s Day 2023. Veronica Tan is the director of the Safer Cyberspace Division at the Cyber Security Agency...

ACAMS Today interviewed Veronica Tan for International Women’s Day 2023. Veronica Tan is the director of the Safer Cyberspace Division at the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), which looks into developing the cyber resilience of both large and small organizations in Singapore.

Outside of her work in cybersecurity, Tan takes an interest in emerging technologies such as Web3 and the metaverse. She is a fellow with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and volunteers on a pro bono basis to support the university’s fintech program and research activities. Prior to joining the public sector, Tan was in a network engineering role for a leading internet service provider. She holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Manchester.

Tan also finds time to participate in university mentorship programs to help students unlock their potential and enhance their professional development.

ACAMS Today (AT): As director of the Safer Cyberspace Division at CSA, what would you like to accomplish during your tenure?

Veronica Tan (VT): The mission to develop the cyber resilience of the wider cyberspace in Singapore is challenging due to the diversity of organizations and individuals that make up the wider cyberspace. Cybersecurity is often viewed as an afterthought or seen as a niche or complex topic that is best managed by the specialist.

However, as organizations increasingly go digital as part of Singapore’s push to have a digital economy and individuals embrace a digital way of life, staying “cyber safe” should be at the top of our minds.

During my tenure, I hope to be able to make cybersecurity simple and actionable for the wider cyberspace. There is a saying that goes, “keep it simple, so you’ll keep doing it.” If we can achieve this for cybersecurity, we will be able to more effectively help the wider cyberspace to cross that “chasm” to proactively take preventive action to protect themselves.

AT: In your opinion, what are the key elements of a trusted digital economy?

VT: “Trust” in the context of a digital economy can be difficult to define. When I think of a trusted digital economy, what comes to mind are the concepts in the digital trust framework developed by the World Economic Forum. It covers (i) security and reliability, (ii) accountability and oversight, as well as (iii) inclusive, ethical and responsible use.

Therefore, good cybersecurity is an important element in a trusted digital economy.

AT: This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. How would you like to see this theme exemplified in the workplace?

VT: I would like to see gender equity exemplified by a culture of acknowledging or recognizing women for their ability and not because of a quota. Putting emphasis on gender equity helps us to be deliberate in identifying any potential unconscious bias that may exist in the organization to take steps that can address this. But it should not be “overdone,” e.g., imposing gender quotas—I have met my fair share of women who prefer not to have this as they want to be acknowledged or recognized for their ability, and not because of a quota. Therefore, implementing gender equity needs to be done sensitively and in a balanced way.

AT: You participate in university mentorship programs to help students in their professional development, what motivated you to become a mentor?

AT: I am fortunate to have met good mentors who shared generously with me, and it is only right for me to pay it forward to the next generation. I have observed how top business leaders tend to share their reflections, and I think it is an impactful practice. Participating in mentorship programs is one way for me to contribute to the development of the next generation.

Moreover, engaging the younger generation allows us to better understand and connect with them. This is a form of “reverse mentoring” because it also helps us see things from a different perspective and allows us to learn from our younger ones.

AT: Looking back at your professional career, what are some of the highs you experienced and what were some of the lessons learned?

VT: In terms of “highs,” one of the most meaningful projects I have had the opportunity to be involved with was the rollout of the Next Gen Nationwide Broadband Network (NBN) fiber network in Singapore. Arising from this project, all new homes in Singapore are fiber-ready, and Gigabit connectivity is commonplace. Digital connectivity is known to improve economic outcomes, and having such an initiative at the national level forms the cornerstone of Singapore’s push to be a leading digital economy in the world.

One of the lessons I learned is not to “sweat the small stuff.” There is a book written about this, and it teaches us how to change our perspective. It is easy for anyone with a busy lifestyle to get bogged down by the numerous day-to-day issues that crop up, but if we consciously try to “switch” our mental “lens” or perspective, it helps us see the forest beyond the trees.

Interviewed by: ACAMS Today Editorial,

Leave a Reply