January 9, 2018
Mike Kuo has never shied away from charting new courses. From his move across the Pacific Ocean to study in Northern California, to building a company from the ground up while raising young kids, or contributing to the global team of a storied company like UL, his life’s journey has been paved with many successes brought on by even bigger changes.
A first-generation immigrant, Kuo moved from Taiwan to the United States in 1982 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer management science at Armstrong University in Berkeley, Calif. After graduation, he landed an entry-level technician position for a computer company in nearby Sunnyvale. At the time, the PC industry was booming, and opportunities emerged for those with the right skillset and an entrepreneurial spirit.
Thus, in 1988, Kuo launched Compliance Certification Services (CCS) – a company he remained at the helm of until 2010. That’s when opportunity came knocking again, as UL looked to expand beyond its traditional product safety services and gain entry into the EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) business.
“Sometimes people ask me whether I regret selling my company and coming to work for an organization as large as UL,” Kuo said. “My answer has always been that I have zero regrets. After nearly eight years with the company, my appreciation for UL and our senior leadership has only grown as they continue to instill great trust in me and support the passion I have for this business.”
Based in Fremont, Calif., Kuo serves as global vice president for EMC, wireless and IoT services in UL’s Consumer Technology business unit, helping to lead global strategy and business planning. He spends his days trying to understand not just the needs of UL’s customers with products in these areas and how they can meet regulatory requirements, but the needs of the industry as a whole as well – ideally before the customer gains awareness of the challenges ahead.
“I enjoy having a global role as it provides me to the chance to observe and learn from other regions in a way that helps me develop a stronger worldwide vision and strategy that goes beyond just North America,” Kuo said. “By having a pulse on what’s going on globally, it affords our team the opportunity to be ahead of the curve and anticipate what will impact our customers most so we can better serve their needs.”
A testing, inspection and certification veteran, he began his time at UL as the North American regional general manager for the Consumer Technology business, overseeing UL facilities in Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Michigan and California. During this time, Kuo helped build the largest specific absorption rate (SAR) test lab in the world as well as the largest EMC facility in the United States. And while pointing to the opportunity to work with top-tier global clients is one way to describe to others the reason he’s most proud to work at UL, he prefers to answer it differently.
“I don’t feel the need to spend time breaking down the specifics of what I do at UL when asked,” Kuo explained. “For me, just being able to say that I get to work for a 123-year old company with a global mission to make the world a safer place is explanation enough and makes me the proudest.”
When not at UL, Kuo spends time with his family and on the golf course, noting that “Saturdays are for family and Sundays are for golf.” Kuo found the game at age 40 and, like each new thing he endeavors to achieve in life, he approaches it with great commitment and passion.
As he reaches the 40-year mark of his professional career, he foresees no plans of slowing down.
“Friends and family always ask me when I’m going to retire. As long as I have the support of UL’s leadership team and my passion for the business can thrive, I will continue to devote my time and energy to my work and help contribute to the overall success of UL.”