Mark Joseph L. Tan (MS SM ’13)-Integrated Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

Mark Joseph L. Tan (MS SM ’13)

Alumnus inspires the next generation of innovators with non-profit Luminated Career Consulting

MS Software Managment '13 alumnus Mark Joseph L. Tan is a Sr. UX Product Manager at Amazon who is currently focused on redefining the Amazon Video Games and Consumer Electronics shopping experience. His passion for Product & User Experience (UX) Design has also been one of the key motivations behind actively leading a non-profit organization, Luminated Career Consulting. This group serves young professionals and student organizations primarily based at Carnegie Mellon University, University of California - Irvine and University of Washington. He is fully committed to serving the tech community by promoting customer-centric product thinking, mentoring young leaders and investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The Path to Product & UX Design

Tan started his career at a renowned consumer goods company working on data analytics and systems integration in the Asia-Pacific region. After realizing his passion for consumer-facing and platform-centric products, he decided to work with a mobile app search and discovery startup based in California to help establish the groundwork for deep-linking technology during its early stages.

He eventually joined Amazon, one of the world’s smartest and most customer-obsessed companies, to work on addressing customer pain points by improving the checkout pipeline, providing customers with more buying and selling options and rolling out multiple offers to end users. By working on new product releases that empower customers to make informed purchasing decisions, he launched initiatives to increase customer adoption while putting human-centered design and natural user interface (UI) at the core.

'Lighting Up' Career Paths with Luminated Career Consulting

While working at Amazon, he and his colleagues noticed a growing interest from other Carnegie Mellon alumni seeking career advice. According to Tan, "We noticed that students were trying to connect with us, as CMU alumni, to talk about how we obtained our positions in the industry. They would ask us to review their résumés, help them with interviews and inquire about company cultures. After awhile, we noticed that similar questions were becoming common. So we created a structure, a quick fill-in form, to gather information before we would meet with them."

Mark Tan & Team

Out of this growing interest, Luminated Career Consulting was launched in Seattle. Originally started in California in 2013, it is a non-profit endeavor that assists students and alumni with numerous aspects of career counseling. Tan and his colleagues work with other business professionals, product managers and software engineers to help educate students and young professionals about how to investigate career opportunities in the software industry. Tan says, "The endeavor grew organically, students found us through word-of-mouth references, through LinkedIn and through us reaching out to universities. One of my colleagues, whose alma mater is the University of Washington, connected us with their students. I discovered Carnegie Mellon University’s Product Management Club organization and decided to reach out to my alma mater as well."

Paying It Forward

Luminated Career Consulting creates diverse teams of young professionals from first-class companies and top-notch student leaders to mentor students. There is help available in subjects such as applying for internships, prepping for an interview, résumé writing and career advice. Although limited services are available right now, Tan says the organization is growing, "We are developing a network of experts. Each mentor is capable of assisting 2-3 students per week with 1-2 hour conversations."

The non-profit has plans to expand its reach and increase the number and location of its mentors. They will continue to offer career consulting and help students unsure about their path. "We want to educate the students about what role suits them," Tan explains. "Sometimes, through meaningful introspection, a student discovers that a specific role they were investigating, such as product management, is not what they are best suited for or passionate about. We are here to address that."

In his spare time, Tan also serves as a mentor for College Access Now, another non-profit organization that helps students from low-income families graduate from college. He also does remote mentoring through platforms such as Evisors.

Planting the Seed of Entrepreneurship

Luminated Career Consulting's passionate group of volunteers can relate to the challenges of finding and following a path to a rewarding career and want to help others do the same. “It’s a global world, why not give back to students and universities?" Tan asks. "I encourage other CMU alumni to pay it forward!”

Tan envisions this mentorship program to be a springboard for its volunteers to pursue their passion, promote global entrepreneurship and support emerging markets. He has been active in investing and partnering with technology-based startups, including Maria Health, a company that enables individuals and small business owners to have easy access to affordable healthcare and QMedic, a smart Medical Alert Service that intelligently routes alerts to help care networks.Tan at Graduation

As the interest expands, Tan hopes to connect with universities, including his alma mater, to help identify the next generation of students in the Silicon Valley and beyond. Tan concludes, “We would be interested in assisting CMU with the admissions process as well. We could help conduct interviews of applicants based on their geographic location by tapping alumni in their local area. I, myself, continue to inform those interested in improving their career path in the software industry, about the MS in Software Management program at Carnegie Mellon University and its goal to develop software leaders.”

Mark TanAbout Tan

Tan was born and raised by a Chinese family. He received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering before obtaining his Master of Science in Software Management. In his free time, he likes to keep himself fit by actively running, boxing and paddling in the lake. He is also into photography (which is available to view on Behance), sports and tech gadgets. He believes that Messi is superhuman and lives by the words of Andrew Carnegie, “Do real and permanent good in this world."

By Chris Zeise