For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to give back to my community and the world. Early in my education, I pursued a medical degree because I thought that was the only career path that would allow me to accomplish this goal. Additionally, I felt pressured by societal and cultural expectations into pursuing a career in medicine.

After earning my honours bachelor of science in biomedical sciences, I soon came to realize that medicine might not be the right path for me. While working as a medical assistant and pursuing a career in the medical field, I was presented with an opportunity in the standards industry. Little did I know that being involved in the world of standardization would give me a completely new and energized perspective on my professional career and ultimately support my pursuit of making a positive impact on the world.

In 2018, I was fortunate to join UL Standards & Engagement (ULSE), an organization rooted in safety science and committed to addressing the greatest safety challenges facing our local and global communities. Over the past five years, I have learned about the invaluable impact that standardization has on the world, and I am grateful that I get to work every day to help make the world a safer, more secure, and more sustainable place.

I first joined ULSE as a standards specialist, where I administered the standards development process for standards for the fire protection and security industries in Canada and the United States. Over the years, I learned how standards impact every aspect of our lives, from the security alarms in our homes that keep us safe from intruders to the fire hoses that help firefighters save lives. Personally, I believe every product and service that exists in our world today needs standardization to help make it safe, secure, and sustainable.

In 2022, my career shifted from administering the standards development process to influencing it by providing technical expertise. As a standards scientist on the ULSE Data Science & Engineering team, I work to strengthen the technical rigor of ULSE standards by identifying hazards and risk factors in the areas of human health and climate adaptation. I leverage these identified risks and hazards in our development of an ecosystem that helps drive the impact and relevancy of standards in relation to human health, environmental health, and the climate.

There are many opportunities in the standards profession for young and emerging professionals who want to make a positive impact on the world. As we innovate and identify new technologies that make our lives easier, new standards will be needed. The unique, inspired, and fresh perspectives of younger generations should be leveraged to help develop standards that address as many risks and hazards as possible.

As standards developers, we need to expand our focus to address common hazards like fire, electricity, and security while also prioritizing other issues like accessibility, gender responsiveness, sustainability, human factors, and physiological effects. Addressing traditional hazards like fire, electricity, and security is as crucial as ever, but we can have an even greater impact by taking a more holistic approach to standards development.

Being involved in the standards profession, building strong and lifelong relationships with other standards professionals who share the same passion for helping others, and working each day to make the world a safer place has had a lasting impression on my life. I am proud of the work that I do, and I am grateful that I have platforms such as Standardization: The Journal of Research and Innovation to share the value of standardization and the positive influence it can have on people and the world.

Wathma Jayathilake is a standards scientist at UL Standards & Engagement, where she is responsible for driving human health and safety considerations in standards. She works to identify hazards and risk factors in the areas of human and environmental health and climate change to strengthen the technical rigor of ULSE standards. In 2023, Jayathilake presented on Climate Change and Standardization at the SES Annual Conference.

Wathma Jayathilake is a standards scientist at UL Standards & Engagement, where she is responsible for driving human health and safety considerations in standards. She works to identify hazards and risk factors in the areas of human and environmental health and climate change to strengthen the technical rigor of ULSE standards. In 2023, Jayathilake presented on Climate Change and Standardization at the SES Annual Conference.

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