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Ansys Employee Spotlights

Jess Harrison

I utilize my military experience

My Career Journey

I joined the U.S. Army right out of high school in 2000. Right after I went through basic training, 9/11 happened, so my focus became Counter Terrorism Intelligence. I deployed to Iraq as an interrogator, and then spent another two years there as a civilian. From there, I worked in various positions for the U.S. Department of Defense in intelligence collection and analysis for 15 years before moving to the corporate world. Luckily, I was able to incorporate training and experience from my military and government career directly into working at a bank for Corporate Security.

The connections I made while deployed led me to join a great security team, and I have followed that team to Ansys where I started in January 2020.

How I’d Explain My Job to a Kindergartener

Oh man, this was so much easier as an interrogator. I told my kids when they were that age that I talked to bad guys and convinced them to tell me where other bad guys were so we could stop them from doing bad things. They told their teachers that I worked with bad guys and used mind powers. That was a fun parent/teacher conference. Now, I would say that I read and think about problems and how to solve them so that I can give that information to all the people I work with at Ansys.

What I Actually Do

I was able to use my military experience with terrorist networks to analyze criminal and national state hacking organizations. While doing this I worked with some amazing professionals that helped me grow in my understanding of cybersecurity. I now manage a team that assess external threats to the business and collect information about those threats on various levels. From as expansive as providing Cybersecurity Awareness training to all Ansys team members, to as pointed as threats that could drive decisions about risk and countermeasures for senior leaders and the Cybersecurity Steering Committee. Our team also will get as granular as looking for an IP address related to malicious network activities to send to our monitoring team that can find out if it has interacted our Ansys network indicating a potential hack.

Why I Choose Ansys

When the pandemic lockdown happened for my area of the world, there was a simulation that started spreading on the internet showing how air flow impacts a person’s exhale on a plane. In the corner of the image there was the Ansys logo, and it made me really proud to work for a company that could show something important in a time where that was so much a part of our world. That pride kept happening. When I am looking for all things Ansys as part of my daily business operations, I still get that proud feeling over our products. I really liked that this organization was focused on providing solutions to problems I had never considered. I haven’t developed anything new, but being part of protecting our employees, information, and processes keeps me tied to that pride I feel.

A Sense of Belonging

I found my tribe at Ansys. They see me as a professional and a person. My manager checks in on me — both personally and professionally. Our executive leadership team supports us, even to the extent of attending one of our Veterans at Ansys employee resource group (ERG) breakfast events. They truly care about us as people.

My Best Advice

Talk to each other. Learn about what your coworkers do, and where the pressure points of their jobs cause friction, while sharing the same about yourself. There are so many solutions that are out there, and some of the most surprisingly successes will be found in unexpected minds.

Getting Involved

The ERGs at Ansys are amazing. I am active in Veterans at Ansys and Women in Technology, and learn a lot from the Ansys Pride Alliance. I chose them all because of personal ties to each — being a woman, veteran, mother of LGBTQIA+ kids — the groups all have a direct and very special relationship to my life. I do want to spend more time learning about the other ERGs when I get a chance as I am sure they are just as amazing as the support system I have already found.

I am also on the Board of Directors for Sisters Place, a non-profit in Pittsburgh. They support families by disrupting cycles of poverty and homelessness through empowerment, housing, wellness, and advancement services. Recently, I was on the planning committee for a Sisters Place fundraiser, and we raised more than $74,000 to help continue the organization’s mission. I recently found out that Ansys is also donating $5,000 to the organization through our Corporate Charitable Donations program.

What You Might Not Know

I collect all things llama and have 18 llamas on my desk not including stationary.

I am a firm believer that Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

I have been lucky enough to take my kids on multiple international vacations, and my favorite so far was to Namibia in Africa, and a close second was visiting the San Gervasio Mayan Archaeological Site in Cozumel, Mexico.