Marissa “Reese” Wood: Building Roadmaps to a Secure Future

Marissa “Reese” Wood | Executive Director | JPMorgan
Marissa “Reese” Wood | Executive Director | JPMorgan

As you are browsing the net and looking random things up, do you worry about all the website cookies that are following you, peering over your shoulder, and making notes on your weird behavior online? Nobody likes being tracked, especially when it can lead to loss of data, money, or even identity.

In 2019, Mozilla Firefox implemented changes in their browsing protocol which made blocking third-party cookies and crypto mining a default – and working on this project with her product team was Marissa “Reese” Wood.

Reese Wood is a cybersecurity professional with over thirty years of experience in high-tech industries. She has just as many years of experience working with charitable organizations, which she loves just as much as her ‘real job’. Currently, Reese is the Executive Director for JPMorgan within the Digital Platform Team. She has a history of managing teams in large organizations such as JPMorgan or Mozilla Firefox, and she has been a leader in multiple successful start-ups.

Reese’s LinkedIn bio states, “I’m a visionary executive who delivers the strategy and road maps that align enterprise goals, investments, and capabilities with emerging markets and customer needs for high-tech companies. With the proven ability to develop and communicate clear direction and goals across functions. I partner with engineering, business, and external stakeholders to sustain focus and achieve milestones.” She laughed when we read that, saying, “I just wanted an incredibly professional way to say I’m someone who has worked their fingers to the bone.”

Reese has successfully run her own company providing cybersecurity consulting and managing entire program implementations of many large cross-organizational systems. Organizations and boards that Reese has served on from a charity standpoint include IDEAS Worldwide, In the Looking Glass, Colorado Edge Soccer, Coaches Aid/ASBN, the Denver Rescue Mission, and others.

From Small Town to Fortune 500

Reese’s journey from a small town in the mountains of Colorado to becoming a leader in one of the largest financial companies in the world has been an interesting one. She served clients in a variety of industries including technology, communications, financial services, utility, retail, healthcare, insurance, mining, and cybersecurity; and worked successfully with some of the best-known Fortune 500 including Hewlett Packard, Seagate, IBM, Dell, Maxtor, Sony, Oracle, Newmont Mining, etc.

While Reese was president of Tabernus, it was named as one of Deloitte and Touche’s top 50 Fastest growing technology companies in Colorado. The company was later acquired for more than 15x valuation. Her leadership efforts in assisting the launch of one of Colorado’s most successful IPOs have also left a significant impact on the technology market in Denver.

When we asked about the biggest challenges she faced on the way, she graciously states, “When I started in the high-tech industry, it was 80% men and only 20% women. I was fortunate to be surrounded by many exceptional people who were incredibly supportive and helped me steer through adversity. However, that didn’t prevent me from experiencing all of the stereotypical challenges of being a young woman in a largely male-dominated industry in the mid-90s. Things such as sexual harassment, misogyny, greed, the ‘no girls allowed’ clubs, etc. were all part of the culture that has since changed a great deal. Through it all, I have learned that if you can lean on the true leaders around you, persevere, hold true to your values, work hard, and focus on always learning the latest / greatest thing, change and evolution come. In this case, we’ve seen such fantastic growth and shifts in the high-tech field – I love it. I wouldn’t change a thing and am so grateful for the friends that I’ve made throughout my career journey.”

Project: Safe and Secure

The culture at JPMorgan is one that supports innovation and encourages leaders to think out of the box. The company is also committed to diversity, environmental sustainability, and community development. This fosters an environment of innovation and giving back among the teams of JPMorgan.

At JPMorgan, Reese and her team have contributed to major efforts such as Project Bloom which is “a digital network for JPMorgan clients that will match start-ups with investors, helping them in fundraising rounds.” She and her team have also been part of projects that heavily leverage cyber security advancements, such as Fusion.

Some of the most interesting and impactful work that Reese has done was with the Firefox web browser. She shares, “Working with my product team, we wanted to really make privacy and security a felt experience. Fast forward and you’ll see a protections dashboard that evolved from a privacy report that my team and I worked on. Another incredibly interesting project that my team was part of was Firefox’s initiative to Block Third-Party Tracking Cookies and Cryptomining by Default.”  

Thoughts of a Cyber Expert

We asked Reese, “What is the one change she wishes she could bring to the industry?” to which, she responded saying, “If I could change anything it would be to mitigate the risks associated with remote working. More than ever, individuals are using their personal devices. It is critical for the cyber industry to focus on the difficulties of large, distributed teams. This includes methods for improving systems, streamlining security controls, ensuring monitoring without compromising privacy, and (most importantly) creating a seamless experience for the end user.”

Talking about future risks in cybersecurity – one of the most significant areas of focus, according to Reese – is the Post Quantum Cryptography era. She states, “There is an opportunity for massive exploitation of data with the evolution of supercomputers. We are seeing incredible investments in this area to get ahead of the problem, and I think that spending is well justified. JPMorgan is getting ahead of this by building cutting-edge technology and using a Quantum Key Distribution Network to secure data and applications.”

Changing the Fray of High-tech

Reese sees herself finishing out her career in high tech. She loves the challenges and unforeseen things that come up and make her job interesting. It keeps her excited about logging in each day. In the longer term, she looks forward to contributing further to complex technology problems that haven’t yet been seen, seeing her twins graduate from college, and a home filled with grandkids.

Her advice for budding cybersecurity entrepreneurs is – “Dream big! My career has been amazing largely because of the great people, rapid evolutions, and world-changing inventions that have come out of high tech. I look forward to seeing what the next generation brings to the table.”