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Spotlight Series: Camellia Chan, CEO & Founder, X-PHY, a Flexxon brand

Camellia Chan, CEO & Founder, X-PHY, a Flexxon brand

ARTICLE SUMMARY

We sat down with Camellia to talk about how she got into tech, how supportive she’s found the industry, and her advice for other women in tech.

CAMELLIA IS THE FOUNDER AND CEO AT X-PHY, A FLEXXON BRAND – THE SINGAPORE-BASED AI CYBERSECURITY SOLUTION PROVIDER, SPECIALISING IN PROTECTION AT THE FIRMWARE LEVEL.

With previous experience in regional and multinational corporations, her role at X-PHY is overseeing the company’s business development and growth, industry partnerships and international expansion.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED? 

I never planned to create an international cybersecurity company, but instead followed my passion for building technology. I started in an electronics manufacturing company and then after several years working in the technology industry, I found an opportunity to take my career to the next level by founding my own business. Flexxon was born in 2007, an industrial memory and storage solutions provider.

Through conversations with our customers, I discovered we had an incredible opportunity to diversify in response to mounting cybersecurity vulnerabilities. We went from our core focus on industrial, medical, and automotive NAND storage devices, to incorporate cybersecurity solutions. It made sense to evolve the business to include a cybersecurity solution that could address this pressing problem. Our world’s first AI-embedded data security Solid State Drive (SSD), X-PHY, was unveiled in 2021.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR? 

My decision to found Flexxon in 2007 will always be a significant milestone in my life. I took that risk and set out with a small group of like-minded people, and I have never looked back since. Most recently, developing X-PHY into a world-leading AI-infused SSD cybersecurity solution is an achievement I’m really proud of. After our launch, we partnered with Lenovo, which is obviously a huge laptop provider and brand. It was an incredible moment of recognition for all our hard work in developing something with real-world value. Since then, we have brought on other partners such as HP, ASUS and expanded our work with leading distributors such as Digi-Key.

None of this could have happened without the incredible Flexxon team who push me and our mission to new heights. I have always been determined to harness the people element of our business, creating the best knowledge spaces by hearing from a diverse group of perspectives. With women occupying 2/3rds of Flexxon’s senior management board, I am so proud of the achievements of all our colleagues.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD? 

The cybersecurity industry is commonly viewed as one which is very difficult to get into. The traditional route requires years of technical education and training to develop specialised skills necessary for these roles. I certainly didn’t go down this route, having studied business management at university (albeit with a specialisation in IT as this was already my passion back then). It was after university that I developed hands on IT specialisation skills by working at an electronics manufacturer – proving that it is never too late to participate. While technical ability will certainly help, what I look for is a genuine interest in the industry and an ability to work well in a team. The Flexxon team relies heavily on the insights of everybody, with high value being produced when you have a range of diverse perspectives coming together around an issue.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE? 

My experience in the tech sector has been that it’s incredibly supportive, however, I do recognise that it is a traditionally male-dominated industry that still has a long way to go to achieve equality. I am lucky that I have cultivated an excellent support group around me from within Flexxon and outside of the company through networking events and talks I have given over the years. These opportunities allow me to connect with other people across the sector, share experiences and form those connections which are so important. One example is the SheLeadsTech programme which I participated in and spoke at last year in Singapore, designed to empower women in the industry and develop a rich and close-knit community.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

It is easy to feel anxious about anything when it relates to your career, and all people are prone to the occasional set-back. For me, I’m naturally an introvert and prefer to work behind the scenes to get work done. But over time, I recognised that being a leader also means that I need to step up and be more of public figure when called upon.

I had to work on morphing out of introvert-mode where it matters, taking up speaking slots to reach out to other women in the tech community, share about our business and just foster more connections.

Underlying this, it is also about remaining ambitious and believing in my abilities to get whatever I was working on over the line, especially when I felt the pressure. Remind yourself of where you are now, what you have had to do to get there, and lean on your support systems. Regardless of where you are, you have plenty to be proud of to fuel whatever you are working towards.

ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE DAUNTING. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE FEELING OVERWHELMED? 

Remember that your perception of the world shapes what you can achieve. It is amazing what people are capable of achieving when they simply take that leap of faith outside of their comfort zones.

All my proudest moments have come from taking risks and believing in my ability.

Yes, setbacks and failures will be encountered, but that’s how we learn fearlessly. As a leader of such an empowered team at Flexxon, I have seen first-hand how much people can grow and seeing it each day continues to inspire me.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY? 

The importance of building a supportive community around you in the industry is so important. You want to have at your disposal the best available perspectives, learnings, and opportunities to further your professional development.

A great way to do this is by attending external events, or even just arranging a chat with other women from within your company.

Mentors can help you learn and really be an ally for you.

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