Herman Chan is all about innovation, curiosity and the end-user, whether he’s blacksmithing or building software.

Right now:

I work as a senior software engineer at PEAK6 NI in Belfast, as part of the Evil Geniuses engineering team. I spend a significant amount of my time figuring how to build better software and how to optimize performance. In the end, it is all really about adding value to the end user. With PEAK6, I have been able to apply myself in different tech stacks while using the latest technology.

Why tech?

Growing up in the early 90s in Hong Kong, I was surrounded by the latest electronics and gadgets. I used to take apart my toys out of curiosity. I have fond memories of tinkering with RC racing cars, replacing parts and optimizing individual components to achieve speed and efficiency. When I graduated high school, I was super into online gaming, and back in those days if you wanted to play somewhat competitively you needed your own server. I started learning to write scripts and managing Linux-based systems for a small online company, and in return I got access to a server to play with my friends. Little did I know, I’d already started building out my CV by having hands-on experience in the tech world. I went on to study computer science in 2006, and I decided to continue on for a PhD in machine learning.

Proud tech accomplishment:

I used to work as a software consultant for startups, one of which was in the gamification and wellness space. We built a few mobile games using wellness data that enabled people to win awards within a game. Incentivizing users for health-promoting behaviors was a new concept at the time. Once at a funding meeting with the local health authority, I pitched the idea of using virtual reality (VR) technology for mobility and to encourage wellness based on range of movement. Later, I learned that the company had started the proof of concept around using VR for stroke rehabilitation.

When I’m not working:

I like to create things. I enjoy spending time with my family, especially my partner, Barbara. We enjoy learning new skills like painting, pottery and blacksmithing. We made each other’s wedding rings for our recent wedding. My friends like to say that my hobby is to have hobbies. I have tried to learn piano, violin, guitar, banjo and, more recently, harmonica. I am also passionate about food; I love cooking and trying out different ingredients. Like most software engineers, I have a sourdough starter and a log book of all the bakes that I have ever created. Not long ago we baked a giant sourdough bagel and used it as a pizza base. It was a 10-inch margherita pizza bagel.

Tech for the greater good:

My PhD was in machine learning to support gait analysis, to assist diagnosis of neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. In my previous employment, I worked in health technology as a software engineer focused on narrowing the gap between research, data science and software products.

Best part of my job:

Where do I start? PEAK6 has a diverse portfolio of businesses and so many talented people. I love working with such a great team. I also like to challenge myself, and I get to innovate on a daily basis.