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Akamai VP connects with tech

Even though Steven Yang, North Asia vice-president at Akamai Technologies, has been in IT sales since starting his career at Microsoft in 1990, he still goes to work every day with the passion of a fresh graduate because of his fascination with technology.

“I have made stops at several different technology firms in my career. When I join a firm, I am like a child visiting a candy store. I’m fascinated by how new technologies can improve our world,” he says.

Born and raised in Taiwan, Yang started work at Microsoft after completing a degree in electrical engineering. “I entered Microsoft when it was not yet that famous. My duty was to help OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] do testing and get prepared to install Windows. Later I moved to Hong Kong, where I served mostly enterprise clients, trying to get them to use Microsoft systems,” he says.

After eight years at Microsoft, however, Yang made the decision to move away from IT. “I thought maybe IT was not actually what I really wanted to do. I spent two years investing in restaurants and doing other things before I realised that, in fact, IT was the career for me, so I returned,” he says.

Yang returned to the industry in 2000 and – at a time when viruses were becoming a serious problem – he had a successful run as the general manager of antivirus technology provider McAfee. “I was having a good time, but my boss was head-hunted to Brocade, a provider of storage area networks, so I decided to follow him. As the sales director of the company, I was flying all over Asia-Pacific helping to managing the business.”

At Brocade, Yang met his wife, and the two later relocated to the US after he was offered a job at personal computer specialist Phoenix Technology. After three years in the US, though, Yang decided to come back to Asia after receiving a job offer from Akamai, as he thought it would be better for his children’s development.

“I wanted my children to be multi-lingual and learn about Chinese culture. Hong Kong is the perfect place, so I was delighted when Akamai informed me that they wanted me to work for them, based in Hong Kong,” he says.

Yang was fascinated by Akamai’s vision and he thinks that the company is going to have a big say in the future of the IT industry. “Akamai is only 15 years old, but it is able to think ahead of its competitors and I find their technology fascinating,” he says. “I think Akamai’s internet technology is going to change the way we access the internet in the future. In the IT world, it is not about how many years of experience you have got. If you have a brilliant idea, you can achieve greatness, even if you have not yet finished university.”