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Drivers of Innovation: Mission as Motivator for UL’s Finance Director

To help commemorate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Jiajia Wu explains how UL’s safety mission serves as a key motivator for ensuring integrity in her accounting and reporting efforts.

headshot of Jiajia Wu

May 27, 2021

Jiajia Wu currently serves as global director, Cost and Technical Accounting and Reporting at UL. She came to the U.S. as an exchange student from China, where she was born in Jiangsu Province near Shanghai and attended Suzhou University. Initially planning to study education, Wu eventually pursued a career in accounting.

What led you to a career in accounting?

I first came to the U.S. as an exchange student for a master’s degree in education at Marshall University in West Virginia. I was looking for something extra, so took up accounting to kill time — this led to obtaining an accounting degree at Marshall University and then landing a job. This wasn’t by accident, though, because my grandmother was an accountant. I grew up with her, and I remember she kept a “family ledger.”

I started my career at a local accounting firm, then moved to Ernst & Young for 10 years, including two years in Calgary, Canada, and then on to UL, where I’ve been ever since.

What is one way you believe you build trust at UL?

I’m a numbers person. Integrity and trust are the cornerstones of my profession. Accurate business stories in terms of facts and figures are what I must deliver to our leaders so that they can make the right business decisions. I’m also in charge of external reporting to regulators, auditors, trustees and other outside parties — so I must ensure that all relevant data is fully vetted, and that our numbers can be trusted.

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

For me, it’s the mission. I’m a firm believer in the mission of safety. As a mother of two young children, that really means a lot to me. The mission we’re building at UL also helps me attract talent from younger generations of accountants — for what cause? For what purpose? Our mission statement makes a big difference in many ways.

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

This is a hard one. I don’t feel I’ve been treated differently from others, but I do appreciate the spotlight on our community, on who I am, on our culture. I am first-generation Asian American, and I do value those things — education, parenthood and marriage. Family is a critical component of our culture. Typically, we take care of our parents, who took care of their parents. The question I often ask myself, what do we want our kids to carry on from us? I do hope they do not forget where we are coming for and the good values embedded in our culture.

On the other side, as an immigrant, I along with other Asian Americans might view things from a different angle. At UL, we recognize each other’s differences — treat others the way we want to be treated, but also respect different perspectives at work, which often leads to better outcomes. I appreciate the supportive environment, and this is why UL is a great company to work for.

Lastly, I want to issue a call to action statement to my fellow AAPIs at UL. Our group tends to be labeled with “working hard but being a silent observer.”  Please get your voice heard. When you have great ideas, raise your hand. UL leadership cares about your opinion, and your voices matter and will make this company greater.

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