Jessica Zucker- Episode 144

Jessica Zucker

By Jessica Zucker

On today’s episode of The Route to Networking podcast, we’re joined by our host, James Dean and a remarkable guest, Jessica Zucker, Director of Online Safety Policy at Ofcom.

In this episode, we delve into Jessica’s incredible career journey, tracing how her interest in foreign policy paved the way for her involvement in cybersecurity, regulation, and safety online. With a captivating blend of determination, worldly experiences, and an unyielding commitment to fostering change, Jessica’s story is a testament to following your curiosity.

Journey so far...

Jessica’s career started with a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from the University of Miami. After this, she travelled to South Korea on a Fulbright scholarship to teach English. During this time, she also conducted policy research for the U.S. Forces Korea, volunteered with North Korean defectors and set up an educational non-profit organisation. These experiences ignited her passion for foreign policy and national security, particularly in East Asia. 

Upon returning to the United States, Jessica pursued a Master’s in Public Policy at Harvard where she delved into the realm of cybersecurity. Her path intersected with the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures following the release of the movie “The Interview”. This series of events propelled Jessica to the forefront of cyber policy and addressing emerging threats in the digital space.

Jessica’s transition into the tech industry was motivated by a desire to bridge the gap between technology and policy. Working for Microsoft in Seattle gave her an opportunity to explore the intersection of cybersecurity and digital warfare, a continuation of her academic pursuits. 

As the industry of online misinformation expanded rapidly, Jessica’s role evolved. She took an opportunity to move to London to work for Meta leading the misinformation policy team in Europe, the Middle East and Africa during critical global events including the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical crises. 

At the moment…

“…the world of bad things that happen on the internet is so expansive and that is my job”

In her current position at Ofcom, Jessica’s daily responsibilities can vary significantly from one week to the next. However, her work can generally fit into two categories. Firstly, she leads one of Ofcom’s Policy Development teams, whose job it is to create guidance for the tech industry on how to implement new online safety rules involved in shaping policy, providing invaluable guidance to technology firms to enhance online safety measures. Additionally, she leads a team that oversees the implementation of a video-sharing platform regulation, which applies a set of rules to prevent illegal content and protect children to video sharing platforms established in the UK – such as TikTok, Snap, Twitch and OnlyFans.

Within this role, Jessica oversees several teams dedicated to strategy formulation, policy development, supervision, and transparency. Recently, her team published a comprehensive report outlining strategic objectives and focus areas for the forthcoming years, alongside a detailed look at what they have achieved and how they work with these platforms to achieve those goals.

You can read more about it here


“…Like many relationships, it is best when it starts from an organic place, where there is a genuine interest in someone’s work or admiration for their career.”

From informal guidance to career-changing advice, mentorship has been pivotal in shaping Jessica’s career. Understanding that value comes in many shapes and forms Jessica shares how much she has learned from her friends, family, colleagues and even the people she manages, introducing the concept of reverse mentorship.  

However, it is her decade-long mentorship with General David Petraeus that has provided her with the strategic guidance and diverse viewpoints that have helped shape her decision-making process. She stresses how important it is to find people who can support you in your career, even if they don’t work in the same industry! 

What’s next? 

Looking forward, Jessica shares that she doesn’t work on five- or ten-year plans, preferring to only look a year or two ahead. On her radar now, she is keen to see where her role at Ofcom will take her, focusing on developing the regulatory strategy and operations has been a huge interest, which she is hoping to pursue further in the coming years.

To hear more about Jessica’s journey, listen to the full podcast episode out now!