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Drivers of Innovation: Engineer’s 35-Year Dedication to UL as ‘Driving Force for Positive Change’

To mark Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Iqbal Syed discusses the factors that keep him committed to UL’s business and mission.

Headshot of Iqbal

May 31, 2021

Iqbal Syed currently serves as senior staff engineer for the Consumer Medical and Information Technologies (CMIT) team. He joined the company in 1984 after studying electrical engineering at the Pratt Institute. A native of Pakistan, Syed moved to New York with his family as a teenager.

What led you to pursue engineering and how did you first come to UL?

I was born in Pakistan and emigrated to the U.S. with my parents and two sisters at the age of 14. My father was in international banking and he relocated for work.

We moved to the New York City area in 1975. We first lived in New York City and then in 1996 moved to Long Island when my eldest daughter was 3. I now have three kids — my eldest is a pediatrician, my second daughter is a nurse, and my youngest, a son, is a software engineer.

In terms of education, I went to Pratt Institute to study Electrical Engineering. I’ve always had a passion for engineering and for communicating via numbers and facts.

I joined UL in 1984, first starting in Appliances and then moving to the Information Technology team in 1986. I have been with the CMIT ever since.

How have you helped build trust during your career at UL?

Over the last 35 years I’ve held several positions at UL. I’ve always remained in engineering and went along the spectrum from new engineer to senior staff engineer. In the middle of my career, I was involved in engineering management, but then moved back to the technical side of the business, which is where both my strength and passion lie.

What is one of your favorite aspects of working at UL?

UL is a great company to work for because its mission is a driving force for positive change in this world. The passion for excellence and safety that is resonated within the company is the reason I have stayed at UL all these years.

My current unit, CMIT, handles all kinds of advanced products. For example, take 3D printing. I had the opportunity to work with manufacturers on their 3D printing products and provide feedback for standard development. This is a very interesting and rewarding part of my job, to help shape the future of safety requirements as well as work with the world’s latest and greatest innovations.

What does the idea of AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?

This idea makes me very proud — because just like with any other immigrant group, Asian Americans have played, and will continue to play, a significant role in U.S. history. I am proud of my background and the rich culture that I have been fortunate enough to pass along to my children. My family is multi-lingual and continues to celebrate our heritage as being both U.S. citizens and bearers of Pakistani culture. My wife, my children and I consider it important that our family’s Asian history be passed down through generations every day. The important lessons of our culture and ancestors help us be more empathetic and supportive of all walks of life.  As an Asian American immigrant, I celebrate my history and culture, and remember the struggles the Asian American and Pacific Islander community has endured, all to give their families a better life.