It’s human nature to want to feel good. Yet many of us endure circumstances and hardships that challenge our ability to be at peace. In those moments when we feel lost, raw, or deflated, we long to feel better. We want to TRANSFORM. Many of us have struggled to hold onto hope over the past two years, and as we collectively move out of the pandemic, we find ourselves forever changed. This is true for organizations as well. In fact, many organizations are struggling to determine whether they fight transformation or embrace it, according to Jake Wood, author of Once a Warrior and RSA Conference 2022 keynote speaker. Wood said that Team Rubicon—the organization he co-founded in 2010, is certainly trying to navigate its own transformation.
Wood, a former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned home in search of renewed purpose. Then in 2010, when a devastating earthquake ravished Haiti, Wood rallied some fellow veterans and set out on a civilian mission. The small group of former warriors recognized that their military training qualified them to provide aid in responding to a natural disaster. Thus, Team Rubicon was born, and Wood recounts his tale of personal transformation that gave birth to an international disaster response nonprofit in his gripping memoir.
But what does that story have to do with RSA Conference 2022? For Wood, it’s more than just this year’s theme. “The organization has had to transform itself countless times and evolve to take advantage of opportunities to serve more communities more frequently,” Wood said.
In large part Team Rubicon and its mission is a reflection of the RSAC community. We have many veterans among our ranks. We are a community of people who protect and defend. Though protecting others doesn’t necessarily require military service, cybersecurity professionals do rise to the call of duty every day, whether that duty is to serve their nations, their organizations, or their communities.
As it has grown, Team Rubicon has partnered with organizations from Palantir to Microsoft, which is likely (in part at least) why cybersecurity is front of mind for the nonprofit. “We’ve been laser-focused on cybersecurity from the beginning. Keeping our systems and the data that we house secure is critically important,” Wood said. “We would grind to a standstill in our ability to deploy to communities if our systems were brought down.”
While cybersecurity as a national imperative was a concern in advance of the war in Ukraine, it is now even more clear that malicious actors are a persistent threat to national security and global organizations. Wood said being a part of RSA Conference 2022 has certainly underscored that we are in a new normal and must expect that criminal networks (state sponsored or not) are out to get us. “If you don’t believe it, you’ve got your head in the sand because it’s only a matter of time,” he added.Recognizing that startups and nonprofits are vulnerable sectors, many members of the RSAC community have raised the point that we are all interconnected and thus have a duty to help protect each other—the very essence of Team Rubicon’s mission as well. Wood also runs a software company, Groundswell, a corporate giving platform, and wants to continue to advance his understanding of how the industry works. Just as no two disasters are alike, the two organizations, Team Rubicon and Groundswell, mandate different approaches to security, which requires different skillsets among the members of each team. The RSA Conference community knows the work of disaster response is never done. To learn more about how you can get involved or donate, visit our website.