Dr Tan had 33 years of distinguished service in the Singapore Public Service holding various key appointments before completing his term as a Permanent Secretary in 2007. He held various top public leadership positions including as General Manager and Chairman, National Computer Board, Managing Director, Economic Development Board, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Manpower, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Chairman National Library Board and Chairman Media Development Authority. He played a leading role in the information technology, economic, tourism, manpower, library, media, arts and creative industries development of Singapore.
Dr Tan is now a senior corporate adviser holding directorships in various companies including Yeo Hiap Seng Ltd, Raffles Education Corporation Ltd and Gallant Venture Ltd. He is Chairman, Global Fusion Capital Pte Ltd and a Senior Adviser of Salim Group. He is also a distinguished adviser and member of Advisory Board of the Centre of Liveable Cities, as well as Board of Trustees, Bankinter Foundation for Innovation (Spain) and Eight Inc Advisory Board.
Previous corporate appointments held include Chairman, Temasek Management Services Pte Ltd, Chairman, one-north Resource Advisory Panel , Senior Adviser, Singbridge Corporate Pte Ltd, Zana Capital Pte Ltd, Litmus Group, and board member of PSA International Pte Ltd, Stamford Land Ltd, Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City Investment and Development Co Ltd (PRC ).
Dr Tan holds degrees in industrial engineering and economics from the University of Newcastle, Australia and an MBA from University of Bradford, UK. He also holds two honorary doctorates by both universities. He attended Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School.
Dr Tan holds four Public Administration Medals of Singapore. He is an Eisenhower Fellow, Honorary Fellow of the Singapore Computer Society and EDB Society Distinguished Fellow. He is also a Fellow of Singapore Institute of Engineers and Singapore Institute of Directors. He is listed in the Singapore Computer Society’s Hall of Fame and named by UK’s Television Business International as one of the world’s 20 media personalities and the only Asian who “had a standout 2006”. In 1997, he was named Best Travel Personality of the Year by PATA Travel News and Travel Trade Gazette. In 2012, he was conferred the Eminent Alumnus Award by the Australian Alumni Association of Singapore and the Australian Government.