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'20 under 40' Class of 2018—Jesse Johnson

'20 under 40' Class of 2018—Jesse Johnson

Jesse Johnson, 37

Corporate security lead, Harley-Davidson Motor Company


Jesse Johnson studied criminal justice as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and decided to pursue the private sector. “I got my foot in the door here at Harley-Davidson as a contractor in 2004,” he said, holding roles as a security officer, shift supervisor, and account manager with the company since then.

Johnson assumed his current role as the corporate security lead for Harley-Davidson in 2015, shortly after obtaining his M.B.A. He is now responsible for the Corporate Security operations at Harley-Davidson's headquarters, the Harley-Davidson Museum, security planning and staffing at special events, motorcycle rallies, and other corporate events with international dealers, as well as providing consulting for Harley-Davidson's financial facilities, and international manufacturing facilities.

“When it comes down to it, the most unique piece of this work is protecting the brand. Though we're not a huge company, our brand speaks volumes globally—it's highly recognizable. So, any negative media, any incidents that occur that make us high profile, could alter the image of that brand. How we respond to, how we address, how we minimize incidents that affect our organization ultimately keeps the brand in the spotlight in a good way,” he said.

“Our motto, our creed in this department, is protecting the legend,” Johnson said.

Johnson noted on a current trend in the security industry of “doing more with less;” companies are trying to get as much out of a budget as they can, and he foresees this continuing over the next several years. “Technology is a big capital investment; but, technology also demonstrates a great return on investment in the end,” he said.

“I know we're in a large push now to supplement personnel with technology that makes sense, and I just don't see that going away. As the technology continues to progress, we're going to leverage it more and more, on all facets—access control, video, video analytics,” he said.


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