Connector Spotlight: Simon Tang

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We cannot debate that anyone is as famous as Simon Tang, Software Engineer here at Connected. An API Leader known for his witty sense of humour, which shines through his life mantra of “I’ll figure it out when I am older,” also describes himself as avant-garde, introspective, and perceptive. Not only does his introspective and perceptive nature help him identify challenges and opportunities at work, but also as he continues to practice Muay Thai and understand the improvements in his technique and strength over time. Can you guess Simon’s favourite suite of products? – it may have to do with multi-user collaboration and convenience and you may also be using them on a daily basis.

Tell us a bit about the projects you’re working on?

I’m working on a couple of projects for a Fortune 500 technology company that has some of the most ingenious engineering infrastructure that I’ve ever personally seen.

The first project is a Q&A-style chatbot that aims to bring remote teams closer by prompting them with fun questions and activities to start conversations. It’s really interesting to see the feedback that we get from teams at various companies, and I enjoy seeing the impact that it has made among remote workers.

I’ve also been improving an internal-facing web application to manage the client’s internal employee hackathons. These changes have saved a significant amount of time for the administrators managing these hackathons.

What’s the most interesting challenge about your project and role?

Since this client operates on such a massive scale, their infrastructure is built to solve the problems that come with it. However, this introduces some additional learning curves for engineers becoming familiar with these systems, and this is a recurring challenge every time anyone needs to work on something new. But it’s very interesting to peek behind the curtain and observe how these companies and products operate at this scale.

Even if these systems are all specific to this client, I can still glean many learnings from my personal experiences using them, and I plan to apply these newfound perspectives in my decisions on future projects.

Where did you work before Connected?

Prior to Connected, I worked at various product companies, from rapid-growth startups such as Tulip to established players like OpenText.

What achievement are you most proud of in your career to date?

I was integrating a particular marketing tool into a website and I realized that there was a serious flaw that enabled anyone to execute arbitrary JavaScript code on any other website that used this tool while leaving very few traces behind. I decided to report this issue to the vendor, and at their request, I built a working proof-of-concept to demonstrate the vulnerability. The vendor has triaged the reported issue, although I expect the solution will be complicated, expensive, and will take a long time to roll out to existing users.

Successfully reporting security issues is a lot like a mix of solving math problems and writing persuasive essays; it requires connecting knowledge about computer systems in some way that hasn’t been done by anyone else yet and then convincing stakeholders that the issue is real and needs to be actioned on.

Do you have a mantra you live by?

“I’ll figure it out when I’m older.”

What do you love to do outside of work?

Since April, I’ve been practicing Muay Thai (also referred to as Thai boxing) and it’s been a great way to get fit and add some structure to my schedule. It’s addicting to push against my limits and see continual improvements in my technique and strength over time.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what album, movie, and book would you take with you?

Movie – 21/22 Jump Street

Book – The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Album – Circles (Deluxe) by Mac Miller

Describe yourself in three words. 

Avant-garde, introspective, and perceptive.

And finally, what’s your favourite product and why? 

My favourite suite of products is “Google Docs Editors” (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, etc.). From their inception, these tools have been years ahead of any competition when considering their incredible convenience and multi-user collaboration, and they’ve made an immeasurable impact on the world.

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