Poh Tan

Innoguidance Consulting
Founder and CEO
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Burnaby, Canada
Investigating the role of NHERF-1 and Podocalyxin proteins in hematopoietic stem cell biology
Kelly Marshall McNagny

What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?

I am the founder and CEO of two businesses: Innoguidance Consulting and Newton's Geniuses Learning Center. Through my leadership, Innoguidance Consulting has consulted with international clients and has helped them achieve and exceed their corporate and revenue objectives. In collaboration with early childhood educators, Newton's Geniuses is a learning center with a science-focused curriculum designed for young children to have opportunities to develop critical and scientific thinking skills.

How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?

My graduate experience at UBC trained me in the field of stem cell science and more importantly gave me opportunities to further develop my interpersonal skills with my colleagues. These skills were pertinent when I joined the industry and later as an entrepreneur.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

As a co-founder and entrepreneur of a business, I really enjoy the flexibility that is available to me. I have two young children whom I enjoy spending time with and owning my own business allows me to be flexible with my time. In addition to time, as an entrepreneur, I have more stake in daily operations, and this helps with keeping the vision, mission, and objectives of the company.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

Definitely not. Ten years ago, I never would have thought about starting my own business. It seemed to that you needed to be someone with a set of special skills to be an entrepreneur. I have had great mentors and role models during my career journey, and I thank them for showing and encouraging me to pursue my dream.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

I always knew that UBC was renowned for its research in the biomedical field, and I wanted to have the best training and mentorship for my graduate studies. In addition, staying in Vancouver was important to me because of family, and UBC met all of my expectations.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

There were many great moments during my graduate studies at UBC. I remember meeting many great friends in the same field as I am who later become my colleagues at work or my associates in my business. Many of them are still my good friends today. I felt that the department that I graduated from fostered and supported collegiality amongst graduate students, post-docs, and faculty and thus, encouraged collaboration between peers.

What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?

Ask questions. Try new things. Learn from your mistakes and failures. Surround yourself with people who support you. Take the plunge!

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

Start establishing and maintaining your networks early. I've been an industry mentor for MBA students at the Beedie School of Business for over 5 years now, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to establish and maintain a network of peers. Even if you have not decided about your plans after graduation, start establishing your network as soon as you start your graduate studies. I am referring to a professional network, and do not make the mistake of excluding people whom you think are "not" in your field. In my experience, the best contacts are often ones who are not in my immediate circle of friends/peers.

Did you have any breaks in your education?

No, I did not have any breaks in my studies.


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