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Global Voices: Daring to Jump In

Mette Pedersen of UL Solutions talks about why she enjoys working for an international company, how differences can strengthen us and the importance of being true to yourself and your interests.

Headshot of Mette Pedersen in black sweater against gray background.

March 26, 2024

As we celebrate Women’s History Month throughout March, we proudly recognize women's many contributions to UL Solutions and the world. Women have held a vital role in our history, and they remain an essential part of shaping the future as we work toward building a safer, more sustainable world.

We recently spoke to Mette Pedersen, senior vice president of Laboratories and Operations, who works in Denmark at the UL Solutions Ballerup office. She talked about the importance of learning, women taking on leadership roles and listening to yourself.

Please tell us about your background.

I was born and raised in Denmark. I studied abroad in high school and stayed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for that year.

I attended Copenhagen Business School for university, earning my bachelor’s degree. My degree is a combination of engineering and business, both commercial and technical.

I’m also a graduate of the Executive Leadership Program at Yale University.

What led you to your career path?

When I was in high school, I was not sure what I wanted to do. My strengths were in math, but I didn’t necessarily want to go into that type of work. After some research, engineering caught my interest. I also considered finance and law because I was looking for something logical and objective.

I chose my degree, which is similar to export engineering, because it would provide a broad foundation. I could then move to the technical or commercial side of business, but I ended up with a career right in between.

What brought you to UL Solutions?

I was writing my thesis on behalf of a tiny company that made temperature transmitters, and I stumbled upon UL Solutions because there were requirements for the technology. UL Solutions was having a customer event, and they allowed me to attend for free as a student.

At the end of the event, a few UL Solutions employees asked if I wanted to ride back to Copenhagen. I took them up on the offer and got to know them during the drive.

After graduation, I chose to go to Germany to study marketing. It was a good opportunity to learn another aspect of business, and I also wanted to learn the language.

I had been in Germany for about four months when I got a call from one of my contacts at UL Solutions asking if I’d like to join the company. I took the job and headed back to Denmark.

What do you enjoy most about working for UL Solutions?

I love working at an international company. Working with a broad group of people from diverse backgrounds who bring such different perspectives, I’ve learned about various cultures and ways of doing business. These differences strengthen us.

Bringing a global team together, listening to varied perspectives, working through communication differences and finding ways to function in a team dynamic is quite interesting.

How does your job help build trust in products and UL Solutions?

Trust is often built through open and honest communication. It starts with showing that what I say is what I do. When that is true at every level, trust is built and enhanced, and relationships are stronger.

We need to do the same with customers. UL Solutions does not jeopardize quality or safety. So, we have to say it like it is, even when it’s not an easy conversation.

For me, it is essential to be myself at work every day. What you see is what you get with me. It comes down to being as transparent as you can be. Be open and honest. Be human, and bring your authentic self to work.

How can we encourage more students, specifically young women, to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)?

As a company, we can open our doors to students and show them what we do. But at the end of the day, it comes down to women daring to jump in and do it.

When I started at UL Solutions and attended international meetings, maybe one other woman would be beside me. It was hard not to wonder if I’d be respected because I was young, a woman and looked different from most people in the room.

I decided what mattered was speaking up and saying what I wanted. I slowly built up respect by doing just that.

Women pursuing technical career paths may have similar fears of not fitting in or being taken seriously. But they should not let that prevent them from doing what they like. Women bring a valuable dynamic to technical fields. Having those different perspectives is essential.

It’s so important to listen to yourself. Overcome those fears, and follow your interests. The most important thing is to choose what you enjoy.

Do you have advice for women taking on leadership roles?

This is something I’m often asked. One thing that prevents women from taking on leadership roles is balancing work with family, and we must recognize that challenge.

I took on leadership roles when my kids were young, and I traveled frequently. I felt scrutinized when I was out of town on business or was the last to pick the kids up from school. I also felt like my husband wouldn’t have been questioned if he had been the one traveling.

My husband and I agreed on how we balanced work and family, and our kids were happy. As long as you have a plan within your family, ignore pressure from the outside. It is possible to raise a family while taking on executive positions. It isn’t always easy, but it absolutely can be done.

Are there any other reflections on your career you’d like to share?

I’ve felt my way through my career, and my successes have often been due to my desire to try something new. My career has also evolved with some good luck and coincidence. I take opportunities as they come.

I’ve found that it is essential to learn how to learn. When you know how to do that, it’s up to you to continue to learn and grow. Whether it’s your role, company culture or the business — you have to keep learning to understand.

The bottom line is that I want to be selected for roles because of who I am and what I do, not because I am a woman. I want to be chosen because I am good at what I do.