Written by: Isaac Lim
Interviewed by: Cebo Cruz
When she started her career in building websites, Steffi Tan has taken the digital world by storm through her development of mobile applications for both iOS and Android. Back when she realised that all she wanted was to code, she started out her journey by building apps for her clients. Since she did not own these products, most of the time she was not able to see them come to fruition. This led to Steffi shifting her focus on product development – developing products from nothing to something. She now views technology and programming as means to better the lives of many through building products for them to use.
Starting iOS development remains one of the most difficult challenges which Steffi had overcome to date. This was attributed to a dramatic shift from web development to mobile development. Nonetheless this problem was slowly chipped away by her relentless googling – showing that perseverance and the correct mindset can allow you to achieve great things. Coining her own phrase, “be resilient, relentless, and kind.”, Steffi does not allow the gender divide to weigh her down. She also would like to acknowledge that she was fortunate enough to be surrounded and placed in an environment where people respected her for who she was. However this cannot be said to be the case for other women.
On the 4th of June, Steffi attended the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) which was full of interesting technical and inspirational sessions. An announcement which many of us might recognise was the introduction of iOS12. Besides this, new and updated Apple developer tools were launched; in-depth technical discussions took place during breakout sessions; and special talks from inspiring individuals like Danielle Feinberg (director of lighting at Pixar). The conference also provided tech consultation booths where people could discuss and ask for advice from Apple engineers. There were also non-technical consultations available such as UI/UX design, App Store marketing and many more. Of course another highlight for Steffi was the Women @ WWDC Breakfast where she met with a plethora of people to learn from panels and discussions related to topics regarding women in the field of technology. This scholarship program also included an scheduled orientation a day before the beginning of the conference where directors at Apple shared how they have impacted society through the building of great products, interfaces and the development of new technology.
Steffi also attended the Women Who Code general assembly event which was also their planning session for 2017. The event gave a very communal vibe where everyone was warm, welcoming, and respectful of everyone’s thoughts and opinions. This encouraged many to share their ideas because they did not need to worry about being criticized. Steffi has since returned to their events volunteering as a mentor for an iOS study group. Her takeaway for the whole event was that “You are not alone”. Many times when we are in the midst of adversity we tend to think that nobody is out there to help and that no one can relate but in reality there are. We cannot choose to avoid adversity, but we can choose how we will respond.
Looking to the future, Steffi hopes that future technology will be able to independently provide more control and security over data and privacy without having to rely on state laws and regulations despite the nature of digital data being free-flowing.