Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Xie incorporates her technical background and knack for problem solving to make a positive difference in her community

Date
Jessica Xie
Melissa Weckerle

Before Jessica Xie began the Technology and Information Management (TIM) undergraduate program at UC Santa Cruz’s Baskin School of Engineering, she had almost 10 years of self-taught coding experience under her belt.

A driven and curious child, Jessica began teaching herself how to code and web design at the age of 10. She was fascinated by technology and engineering and wanted to learn new skills. 

When choosing which path to follow for her undergraduate degree program, it was important to find a program that would allow her to build on her self-taught skills and translate into other technical fields. That ended up being the TIM program at UC Santa Cruz. 

“The TIM degree program encompassed everything that I was interested in because you get to learn about computer engineering, computer science, and business and information systems,” stated Jessica. 

Reverse engineering and cryptography were two of Jessica’s interests during her time at UC Santa Cruz. She discovered the power of innovation and the exhilaration that came from being able to solve advanced coding problems.

Advancing technology for social good

As Jessica was nearing completion of her undergrad degree and started searching for potential career opportunities, she stumbled upon the cybersecurity industry.

“I started learning ways hackers con people into getting their private information, and it piqued my interest in wanting to find ways to stay secure online,” noted Jessica.

Cybersecurity was an opportunity for Jessica to contribute to the effort of advancing technology for social good. After spending time overseas to complete a master’s program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Edinburgh Business School, Jessica started working at the company Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG). 

Jessica is now an expert in cyber strategy and is a Business Information Security Officer at MUFG, helping to lead the business’s global cyber strategy and increase the security of their individual cyber programs. 

A current project that Jessica is working on for MUFG is the planning and implementation of the annual Cyber Expo, which takes place every October during Cybersecurity Awareness Month. 

“The Cyber Expo is similar to a tradeshow where prospective and existing vendor partners showcase their products and services to the MUFG audience,” stated Jessica. 

In the time that Jessica has taken over the development of this event, she has been able to expand the company’s global audience, increase vendor opportunities, and triple attendees. She even made the switch to an entirely virtual format last October in light of COVID-19 restrictions.

Finding ways to make an impact in her community 

It was during Jessica’s undergraduate experience that she began her lifelong commitment to fight for equal human rights and social justice. She was Vice President for To Write Love on Her Arms, an organization that advocates and brings awareness to mental health services and collaborates with UCSC CAPS (Counseling & Psychological Services).

Jessica was dedicated to finding ways she could incorporate her knack for problem solving and humanitarianism nature to make positive change in her community. 

When she left Baskin Engineering, she moved to Ireland after participating in the UCEAP program in Dublin. There, she furthered her humanitarian efforts by participating in the organization Engineers Without Borders. Drawing from her STEM background, Jessica led a team on developing a food dehydration system to combat food insecurity in Nepal. 

With her continuous desire to advance social justice initiatives far and near, it was a no brainer that once Jessica settled into her current town of Pasadena, California, in 2019, she would inquire about ways she could support her local community. 

In the summer of 2019, Jessica became a member of Pasadena’s Human Services Commission and was shortly thereafter appointed to Chair.

As Chair, she works directly with City Council and community members to address social issues in the city of Pasadena. This year’s issues of most pressing priority include writing a resolution to have the city declare October as LGBTQ History Month, addressing homelessness with innovative solutions, and developing mentorship programs for women of color. 

“It’s very fulfilling to work with so many changemakers who are working so tirelessly to support the city and the commission,” Jessica said.

With Jessica’s STEM education and years of technical experience, she is able to elevate the commission’s goals of developing cutting-edge solutions that seek to address the community’s most pressing human services issues.

When asked what she does in her free time when she is not working on cybersecurity projects or addressing the needs of the community through the Human Services Commission, Jessica brought up another humanitarian effort that she takes part in, highlighting once again the powerful impact a single individual can make in their community.

Jessica serves on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit organization Friends Outside of LA. This organization provides services to families that are impacted by incarceration. 

“I did my master’s dissertation on the evolution of our criminal justice system where I highlighted the complexity and interconnected systems that create the cycle of incarceration. It’s very fulfilling to be able to bring my expertise to this organization to help create a better future for families impacted by incarceration,” Jessica said.

From protecting the integrity of the cyber world to advancing social justice efforts, Jessica Xie’s inspirational contributions are leading the way to a better future.