Skip to main content
  • Feature Story

Global Voices: Forging New Paths Forward

Kim E. Brooks, a manager on the Change Management team at UL Solutions, discusses her transition from engineering to being a people leader, a love of helping others and positively impacting students.

Kim Brooks in red shirt and silver necklace by light brick wall.

February 27, 2024

As Black History Month closes and we get ready to celebrate Women’s History Month in the United States, UL Solutions remains committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace. We recently spoke with Kim E. Brooks, a change management manager with the Human Resources Advisory group in our Northbrook office. She discussed her journey from engineering to being a people leader, what she enjoys about her work and participating in the Black Business Resource Group.

Please tell us a bit about your background.

I graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, earning my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with a minor in computer science. While there, I joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.® and served as president for two years. It is an international service organization and the oldest Black female Greek-letter organization.

I later went on to earn my master’s degree in leadership development as well as certifications in SHRM Essentials of HR Management, adult education and change management.

How did you get into engineering?

My intention initially was to go into computer science. My dad has always been my mentor, and he was an engineer. He thought I would prefer engineering to computer science since I enjoyed taking things apart and liked math in school.

I had an IT internship for two summers and realized I did not like programming. I changed my major to engineering and kept computer science as my minor.

What brought you to UL Solutions?

I learned about UL Solutions — known as Underwriters Laboratories or simply UL at the time — while taking a Safety Engineering course in college that showed how UL testing helps reduce many hazards, accidents and fires around the world. I loved this mission, applied and was hired as an engineer.

How did you transition from engineering to human resources (HR)?

I expressed a desire for leadership roles early in my career and participated in various UL leadership training programs for professional development. Eventually, I secured my first leadership position as an engineering lead within the Appliances and Laboratory group.

I then pursued the opportunity to lead the Energy group followed by a role managing field engineers. My leadership training, experience and supportive managers helped to prepare me for these roles.  

As I pursued my advanced degree and certifications, I became a change lead in Global Field Transformation, supporting organizational transformation before becoming an HR people experience manager. I led a cross-functional team helping employees transition back to the workplace after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and helped create hybrid work policies.

My current role complements my change lead experience in field transformation. I enjoy working with different areas that need assistance with change adoption for new processes or tools.

What are your favorite things about working for UL Solutions?

I have enjoyed trying new roles, departments and experiences that fueled my growth as an engineer, leader, safety ambassador and community supporter. I have enjoyed traveling around the world for training or to evaluate products for customers.

I love volunteering to support the organization — organizing employee events, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity service days, being a Safety Smart Ambassador and participating in process improvement projects. It allows me to establish well-rounded connections across the company for a great cause.

I’ve had the privilege of teaching public technical workshops and facilitating various UL University courses. These experiences helped to solidify my passion for training and development.

How has being a part of the Black Business Resource Group (BBRG) impacted you and/or the community?

I believe in contributing time to make a difference and enjoy when we collaborate with other BRGs on events and programs while embracing our differences.

As the BBRG Community Impact lead, I coordinated annual school supply drives and visited inner-city schools to encourage kids to pursue careers in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math]. I have coordinated tours for kids to visit UL Solutions and meet employees from diverse backgrounds who share their career stories and inspire the kids to pursue their passions.

Why do you think Black History Month is important?

This month invites a time for reflection. I remember incidents of discrimination and hate in college, such as when I reported a landlord who rejected an apartment viewing when he saw the color of my skin. I reflect on my involvement in the anti-apartheid movement during college and protesting injustices on campus.

These experiences are etched into my identity. I ponder the resilience of my ancestors, their struggles paving the way for my education at Marquette. I honor their tenacity and the countless others who forged paths forward.

What are you most proud of about your heritage and traditions?

I am thankful for the strong work ethic my parents instilled in me to persevere even in the toughest times — a legacy I passed down to my children. My father taught us to work hard, play hard, pray often, and prove our worth. The journey will not be easy, but success will follow.

We are a resilient people and navigate life’s challenges with unwavering determination.

Our family cherishes connection points — gatherings that bind us together. From Sunday dinners to holiday celebrations, these moments foster joy and togetherness. On Christmas Eve, we light a candle to honor our ancestors, ensuring their memory remains vivid in our hearts and minds for generations.

How can we encourage more Black students to engage in STEM?

We must return to schools to educate students about careers in STEM. We need to invite kids back to UL Solutions campuses to witness what we do and collaborate with organizations supporting youth efforts, such as FIRST Robotics, to build awareness about how technology and science are vital in sustaining the world for our future.

How are you involved in the community outside of work?

I volunteer to support organizations that help the disadvantaged or empower our youth in STEM, such as the Ajilla Foundation, the National Society of Black Engineers and local school programs. I also enjoy working with my church to feed the homeless or stock food pantries.

There is always a need in any community if you look hard enough. We just have to step up and provide assistance when we can.