Feature Video

Leadership@Cisco: Irving Tan

by Joie Healy

Irving Tan, SVP, Asia Pacific and Japan, talks about leadership and why he believes all leaders need to be empathetic. Hear what else he says about what he is most proud of as a leader and also which one of his family members really makes him laugh.

 Video Transcript

What makes me laugh? What really makes me laugh is my nine-year-old daughter 'cause she's got really great one-liners and a very dry sense of humor and strangely enough, I'm probably one of the only people that can understand her jokes. But we get along really well and she really cracks me up.

I am actually a really introverted person. Many people find it quite suprising because as part of my job I am required to interact with a fair amount of individuals and a fair amount of media and although I think I do it well it does take a lot.

To me, the three characteristics that make a good leader, firstly, one is empathy. The ability to empathize with your teams and how do you help them through the challenges that you are facing. Secondly, the willingness to serve and I think that's what leadership is really about. And finally, the ability to also make difficult choices and decisions during challenging times.

What am I most proud of as a leader? I would say actually, leaving behind strong teams that has a culture of performance, that has a culture of humility and also one that cares not only for the team itself, but also the broader community to which he belongs to.


Well I think technology, as we move forward will really be woven into every aspect of the fabric of our life. But I think we will definitely make big changes in the area of healthcare in terms of how we treat ailments, in terms of how we can prevent diseases from happening. So it's really gonna transform the quality of life for human beings and I also hope that we can use technology more to alleviate poverty and hunger that we still have in many, many parts of the world

Two things really keep me up at night. First of all, you know, I think in particular, we are in this constant battle for talent. And so it's really about how do we, as a business, continue to focus on attracting, especially young talent, to our business. And secondly, it's always about thinking back about what have I done today, what could I have done better today that could have been more beneficial to the business,

I'm really passionate about building strong teams, developing people. And then just as a personal hobby, I have a great passion for history, as well. History teaches us that it's about the ideas and the values that you leave behind and not the monuments that people remember you for many years to come.