Chief Privacy Counsel Embraces Insurance Career in Data and Privacy

Chief Privacy Counsel Intrigued by Insurance Challenges

Persistence and a penchant for learning new skills led Marcus Morissette to an insurance career in data and privacy.

Marcus Morissette standing atop a scenic landscape

Every insurance professional’s path to the industry looks different, and some are more roundabout than others. For Marcus Morissette, assistant general counsel and chief privacy counsel for Argo Group, that journey began with the decision to attend law school at the University of Idaho – even though he had already committed to culinary school in Baltimore.

“I came as close as you can to a completely different lifestyle,” Morissette says.

Building a career on self-taught skills

After completing a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Maryland, Morissette was working and planning his next move. He was on the verge of attending culinary school when he was accepted into law school and decided that was the better option for him.

Straight out of law school, Morissette received a commission from the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. During almost five years on active duty with the Navy, he served as a defense counsel and deployed to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf as an operational law attorney.

Morissette’s foray into information security began when he left active duty and started working as corporate counsel for a startup information security software company.

“I spent almost the next decade working as a consultant, advising companies on legal matters including information security, compliance and privacy while also serving as a staff judge advocate for the U.S. Navy Reserve,” he says. “I also taught myself the technical skills and completed the certifications necessary to become an information security systems professional and eventually a certified information privacy professional.”

These experiences led Morissette to establish his own private legal practice as well as co-found Concise Consulting, a consulting company specializing in information privacy, security and governance.

Around this time, Morissette met the head of privacy at eBay and expressed interest in joining their team. He interviewed for a position but wasn’t hired initially. He didn’t give up, though – he kept learning and getting better. And the next time he interviewed, he got the job.

“I was originally hired as an individual contributor,” he says, “and I ended my career at eBay as the chief privacy officer, in charge of global privacy compliance and operations for eBay and its many subsidiaries.”

After leaving eBay, Morissette returned to consulting for a period before finding his way to insurance. And he continues his commitment to the Navy to this day.

“I’m still in the Navy Reserves, working for the Commander of Naval Information Warfare Reserve Command,” he says. “Twenty-two years in, I’m still happy to be part of an institution that’s older than the U.S. itself.”

Insurance poses new privacy challenges

When he began contemplating an insurance career, Morissette used those self-teaching skills to learn the inner workings of the industry.

“You have to have certain things to be compliant, but a truly effective privacy program enables the business to operate and innovate, take on new challenges, and manage risk.”

— Marcus Morissette

As he went through the interview process with Argo, he was intrigued by the challenges and opportunities he saw in the insurance business.

“I really got excited about some of the things that Brandon [Pinzon, vice president, data protection officer] and Susan [Comparato, SVP, U.S., general counsel] wanted to build around the privacy and data protection practice,” Morissette says.

In general, Morissette considers the data Argo collects to be “medium-risk,” but the challenge is in how it’s collected. On the underwriting side, Argo’s data is generated through brokers and producers. On the claims side, it’s often through contracted claims administrators.

“This range of relationships and the complexity of those relationships are challenges that have to be overcome,” Morissette explains. “But they’re also intriguing, like a puzzle to be solved.”

To see all the pieces of the puzzle, Morissette connects with Argo business leaders, professionals across the industry and groups like the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA).

These relationships provide insights that help Morissette see beyond the goal of keeping Argo compliant and start looking at how Argo’s use of data can improve business functions.

“You have to have certain things to be compliant, but a truly effective privacy program exists to enable the business to operate and innovate, take on new challenges, and manage risk.” – Marcus Morissette

Finding comfort in the “safe zone”

“I like a challenging environment because I feel like I’m continuing to grow and learn,” says Morissette. “But then there’s that concept of staying in my safe zone.”

“One of the things I love about privacy advice is that I’m confident in my ability to provide expert advice from experience. It feels good to use that skill and passion in a setting that’s helpful to a business.”

He has been accustomed to remote working since his stint at eBay, and there is no shortage of responsibilities at home. Morissette lives on two-and-a-half acres outside of Seattle with three kids, five cats, two dogs, eight chickens, a turtle and a gecko.

“Between yard work, maintenance, childcare, chauffeuring and cooking, my primary hobby is just keeping the place afloat,” he says. “I’m just trying to keep the family happy, be as good a dad as I can and make good memories when I can.”

Learn more about the privacy and security professionals managing Argo’s data.