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Ten minutes with: UL

Member News published by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), under 5G, Handsets / Connected Devices, Internet of Things (IoT), Radio Technologies, Regulatory / Policy / Standards

UL, the global safety science leader, introduce themselves to the CW community after recently joining as a member.

Find out more about UL

How long has your company been in operation, and what was the inspiration for its founding?

Our business started in 1894 when our founder, William Henry Merrill, created one of the world’s first electrical safety testing laboratories in downtown Chicago. Our global headquarters are in Northbrook, Illinois, not far from where we started in downtown Chicago. However, we have evolved from success in electrical and fire safety to providing market leadership across broader safety, sustainability and security challenges from cybersecurity to indoor air quality in more than 100 countries around the world. Over the past century, that same spirit of innovation harnessed by our founder has remained part of our DNA. We work with the world’s top companies to empower trust by enabling the safe adoption of innovative technologies through a wide range of offerings, including certification, testing, auditing and inspection, verification, learning and development training, advisory and software solutions. 

What is special about your company’s products/services?

UL is a global safety science leader. Our mission is working for a safer world. UL’s scientists, engineers, problem solvers and innovators partner with our customers to unlock their potential by empowering them to demonstrate safety, enhance sustainability and strengthen security. Thanks to our deep industry and technical problem-solving expertise combined with our global presence, we help companies succeed in constantly changing global markets, so they can focus on the future and stay on the leading edge. 

Where does your company see its industry heading in the next ten years?

UL is a global safety science leader. Our mission is working for a safer world. UL’s scientists, engineers, problem solvers and innovators partner with our customers to unlock their potential by empowering them to demonstrate safety, enhance sustainability and strengthen security. Thanks to our deep industry and technical problem-solving expertise combined with our global presence, we help companies succeed in constantly changing global markets, so they can focus on the future and stay on the leading edge.

We are heading to a more connected world. It’s not hard to imagine a world where everything is eventually connected, utilizes smart technology and can be controlled remotely while also being fast and innovative.

As consumer technology becomes more and more connected, the conveniences are clear to see. But, we cannot lose sight of the fact that everything will be increasingly complex. That complexity will also demand better and readily available connectivity and faster digital innovation, such as additional smart technology in homes and vehicles.

Increasing connectivity will also require stronger security. From personal devices to network security — whether on home networks or those supporting delivery and safety of utilities like electricity and water infrastructure — the industry needs to stay on top of cybersecurity and ahead of potential cyberattacks. Governments, municipalities and industry groups will also need to make sure standards and requirements are always up to date with current trends and needs.

While we are very much a consumer-driven world, people are also increasingly focused on our behavior’s global and environmental impacts. Companies need to stay on top of and be transparent with their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. There’s a need to make sure our environmental impacts, from manufacturing to increasing amount of  electronic waste from consumer products, are minimized to help protect our environment for future generations.

UL WB

Where does your company see itself heading in the next ten years?

From its start in fire and electrical safety, UL has grown and changed as the world has evolved and modernized. Today’s world moves quickly, and people expect quick action, answers and turnaround on new developments. We see UL continuing to evolve and empower customers with shorter development cycles. This essentially means a faster time-to-market, the ability to stay competitive in global markets and the opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive.

We already have a global presence, with laboratories and offices around the world. We will likely continue to look for opportunities where it may make sense to have a physical presence so that we can help local and regional customers with safer processes and products. As we’ve learned during the pandemic, there may be more opportunities to handle some tasks virtually as another way to save time.

As a science company, we can also utilize data, analysis and firsthand experience to continue to improve our own processes, products and services to better serve our customers.

What is your company currently working on?

Inside the Consumer Medical and Information Technologies (CMIT) team, which is UL’s consumer technology division, we are working on several projects, including testing and certification for connected devices. These include the latest technologies — 5G, mmwave, Wi-Fi 6E, Internet of Things (IoT), wearables and batteries.

We assist them with advisory services, for instance, to evaluate alternate product designs that can help them overcome these challenges. We keep investing in people and facilities and in the knowledge we need to keep UL’s experts on the cutting edge of technological innovation. Our work never stops.

Which among your recent announcements is your company most proud of?

We have a lot in the works, but these are a few of the things we’re most proud of at the moment:

  • In May 2021, we started offering Wi-Fi 6E testing at UL’s laboratories in England and Germany. We can test to U.S. and European regulatory requirements and also offer certification services.
  • In October 2021, we opened an expanded electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) laboratory in Carugate, Italy. The facility offers end-to-end service solutions for EMC and wireless testing for various industries, including consumer electronics, information technology equipment, telecommunications, medical, industrial, lighting and small and large appliances. This expansion includes equipment and facility upgrades that allow for increased testing capabilities, capacity and speed. We’ve also made a similar expansion to one of UL’s laboratories in Basingstoke, U.K.
  • In October 2021, we launched two new initiatives — the Data Center Integrator Qualification (DCIQ) and Immersion Cooling Equipment. These programs will help support data center industry growth, which has recently experienced increased demand for remote work, cloud computing and business digitization. With the increase in Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices and applications, adoption of factory automation and new applications relying on 5G networks also increased data demand. UL’s DCIQ program helps limit data center hazards and performance loss due to improper equipment integration.
  • Immersion Cooling Equipment is a UL certification program for equipment used with information technology, server and computing equipment in data centers. Data centers have increased in size and scope, and immersion cooling dielectric fluids have become more common due to their efficiency. The programs help evaluate these systems and the related fluids to applicable requirements.

How would you describe your company culture?

UL’s mission is working for a safer world. We believe in promoting safe living and working environments for people everywhere. The work we do worldwide helps contribute to that mission every day. We’re proud that what we do makes meaningful contributions to society — from our safety work to our environmental commitments and educational outreach.

At UL, we promote a diverse and inclusive environment where everyone feels safe sharing their talents, ideas, passions and experiences. We are committed to several diversity, equity and inclusion pledges, and we support our own diversity, equity and inclusion strategies through both executive and employee councils. UL also sponsors Business Resource Groups (BRG), which are voluntary, employee-run groups that help foster diverse, inclusive workplaces. These BRGs connect various groups, from parents and young professionals to ethnic groups or military members, and have chapters at UL’s campuses worldwide.

UL is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, and through our efforts with Watts of Love, among other work, we promote safe living and working environments.

Who is your CEO and what is their background?

Jennifer F. Scanlon is president and chief executive officer (CEO) of UL. Scanlon’s deep commitment to science, technology, engineering and math shape her approach to advancing UL’s leadership as a trust-ingredient brand, driving confidence and trust in the next generation of innovation.

Prior to becoming CEO in September 2019, she served as president and CEO of USG Corporation, a manufacturer of innovative building products. During her 16 years at USG, she also served as chief information officer (CIO), and head of Corporate Strategy. She led the company through a major international expansion, transformed the role of technology in driving operational efficiency and customer satisfaction, and invested in research to develop sustainable building materials. Data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence were key drivers in the transformation of USG’s understanding of and ability to serve its customers. She began her career at IBM. Her experience will be central to building new offerings, opening new markets, and creating the next generation of solutions at UL.

Scanlon is a fierce advocate for STEM education. She is also dedicated to increasing diversity in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, enabling greater organizational diversity and improving the ability of organizations to fully understand and meet the needs of a diverse stakeholder base.

Scanlon serves on the board of Norfolk Southern Corporation and the board and executive committee of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She is a member of The Chicago Network, the Economic Club of Chicago and the Commercial Club of Chicago.

She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with dual degrees in government and computer applications and a Master of Business Administration in finance and marketing from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Do you have any job opportunities that might be of interest to the CW community?

As a larger company with campuses around the world, UL can offer many growth opportunities. We offer positions in many different roles, from engineering and information technology to sales and marketing, at every experience level. Students are invited to look into our internship opportunities as a meaningful experience to add to their education.

We encourage you to visit our Careers website https://www.ul.com/about/careers to learn more and see our open current opportunities.

What is your company looking for from the CW community? What engagement opportunities can it offer?

We understand that wireless and connected technology is essential in today’s world. We have experience working across multiple industries, and we offer services, solutions and certifications for a variety of products — from Internet of Things connected devices and Wi-Fi to cybersecurity. UL can assess the performance and functionality of wireless products and evaluate them to applicable standards.

UL can support CW members with global knowledge and experience in regulatory compliance for worldwide markets — and we can often assist locally, as we have campuses around the world. We offer a variety of informative, educational materials in various formats — from webinars and online meetings to white papers and case studies.

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