Takeaways from UL’s Knowledge Summit

Jon Hillegeist

As a relatively new UL employee, I didn’t know what to expect from UL’s recent Knowledge Summit in Philadelphia. As such, I was blown away by the passion that my UL colleagues and our customers showed. In EHS, we are part of an energetic, committed, intelligent and innovative community! Below are some of the things that stood out to me the most.

Passion for safety

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel kicked off the conference by sharing some statistics about his organization’s work: The Philadelphia fire department handled more than 300,000 medical emergency care incidents per year. It turns out fire personnel are often the first responders to emergencies, arriving ahead of ambulances. He went on to describe cutting edge fire safety research that his department and UL are conducting together. He closed by exhorting us all to be fired up about the work we do.

Our own EHS Managing Director Scott Barnard spoke next. If you’ve ever heard Scott speak from his heart about our business, you know he’s all about making the world a safer place. Validation and audits have their place in our work, but they are tools for preventing injuries and saving lives.

For example, he spoke about one of our customers that manufactures personalized T-cell products for stage IV cancer patients. The treatment is successful, but it must be made, transported, and delivered correctly or it won’t work. And because of the patient’s short life expectancy, the company has only one shot to get it right. Making sure everyone involved in that process knows how to do their job correctly is where we come in. As Scott said, “Our work matters.”

Passion for our products

Nearly every customer I spoke with is passionate about our products. They have either experienced the power and efficiency our solutions provide, or they are just starting out and are eager to leverage that power for themselves.

ComplianceWire® veterans gushed about how critical that solution is to their success. Jamie Hinley, director of Global Learning Solutions at Valvoline, gave a compelling presentation on how his team uses our LearnShare ELMS. By implementing different user interfaces for audiences with needs ranging from time-driven training completions to voluntary training engagement, his team has driven business outcomes such as increased sales and reduced turnover.

In addition, the conference breakout sessions were packed with customers eager to learn more about how to get more out of our products, with many customer teams splitting up to cover as many of the sessions as possible.

Passion for innovation

Throughout the conference, in breakout discussions and conversations over meals, customers shared their examples of using our products in creative ways to solve business challenges. In some cases, they are pushing the boundaries of what our products can do beyond what we expect. I can’t wait to see what they come up with in our new User Community that is being launched soon.

Clyde Kofman, UL’s senior vice president of Data Solutions, stretched our thinking with an engaging presentation titled, “Artificial Intelligence and the Impact on Learning.” He shared how we helped one of our customers use AI to analyze past quality issues for the past five years. By categorizing numerous factors by levels of risk, our customer was able to use the AI algorithms to accurately discern the risk and take appropriate mitigation steps when customer complaints started coming in regarding water filters. What previously would have required a complete shutdown for six weeks was effectively managed in an hour with minimal disruption.

Passion for collaboration

The entire conference felt like one collaborative community rather than a gathering of customers and clients. Mike Lawrence, UL’s software project strategy manager, led a team that met with some of our key customers to gather feedback and guidance before the conference started. Scott Barnard repeatedly told UL’s employees and customers that we want feedback because, “Your challenges are our road map.” UL employees sought input from customers throughout the event, and customers enthusiastically shared their concerns and use cases with us and each other. We are all pulling together to understand how we can help our customers be more successful. It was a great feeling!”

Passion for living and having good fun

There is a time for work and a time for fun. When the last sessions for the day ended, people knew how to relax, enjoy a good meal and conversation together. Some even hit the dance floor, belted out a few karaoke songs and visited some local nightspots. We work hard to keep people safe so they can work well and enjoy life, and this community knows how to do the same.

I hope that those of us fortunate enough to participate in the Knowledge Summit can bring back that passion to all of us at UL. Our work matters. We are making a difference. And we are part of a community that cares.