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What does a Risk Intelligence Analyst do?

Posted By Rachel Bode, Tuesday, August 30, 2016

This is the first in a series of blogs exploring the varied careers and positions that a risk intelligence analyst can hold, jobs they can do, and impact they can have on different types of organizations... 

When people ask me what I do, my reply -- “I work in global security intelligence for a major medical device manufacturer” --is often met with a nod and an “OK… what does that mean?” Fair question. In my previous job in national-security intelligence, people usually assumed I was a spy. Or they feigned understanding when I told them that I analyzed political and military developments in South Asia and the Middle East. At the federal level, intelligence analysis typically focuses on a particular geographic, functional, or technical topic. Federal analysts will zero in on a small slice—national governance, security ministries, or orders of battle—of a larger problem set, such as a country or region. In the private sector, the role of the risk intelligence analyst may vary, but the analyst is likely to have broad responsibilities, ranging across all aspects of a corporation’s interests.  In my job at SJM, one day may resemble another but rarely are those days consecutive. In just the last several months I have written products on security and business implications of impeachment proceedings in Brazil; assessed the Brexit; researched potential physical and data/IP implications of Pokemon GO™; crafted due diligence and country risk assessments; consulted with travelers heading to volatile areas; prepared incident notifications to our Crisis Management Team, and, from my dining room table, supported travelers in emergency situations. And these are just a few of the varied tasks that fall to our team.

Small Size, Broad Mandate

 The small intelligence staffs of the private sector account for the broad range of their responsibilities. In government, I was one of several thousand analysts at my agency, in an intelligence community of 18 member agencies. Now, I am one of two with intelligence responsibilities in a global security unit that totals fewer than 20 and supports an organization of over 18,000 employees. At its core, the role of the risk intelligence analyst in the private sector is to enable the conduct of business, through proactive identification, assessment, and mitigation, of risks facing company personnel, facilities, and operations around the globe. Daily duties include supporting travel security and assessing geopolitical and security risks facing the company, as well as tasks from other segments of the business, with a healthy dose of responding to emerging events or terrorist attacks. Questions that don’t have a clear answer wind up on our desks. A major challenge for the private sector analyst is providing solutions that enable business to be conducted. Some risks could be easily eliminated or mitigated by simply declaring an area off-limits, but the requirements of business—or research, or international aid—rarely allow for such a simple solution. Instead, we strive to offer solutions that allows operations to continue without exposing the organization or its people to undue risk.

Sources – Your Network is Invaluable

One constant from government to the private sector is reading and writing. Another is the value of a network of contacts.  Despite what the movies depict, most intelligence analysts are keyboard warriors, spending large chunks of their days researching  and writing assessments and briefs. Risk intelligence analysts largely consume open source information, news media, and vendor curated information. Just as important, they interact with counterparts across industry, government personnel, and, when appropriate, leaders within the business. In my experience,  these relationships are invaluable.  Although vendors or government sources often have excellent information, even richer information will come from people on the ground or from talking through a difficult situation with someone who has faced similar challenges. Distilling this information into a written product that adds value or raises awareness of potential risks—before they become real problems—is a core mission of the risk intelligence analyst. Written products can vary greatly by organization. Some teams may have a regular recurring product line supplemented by special requests while others may purely react to questions from the business. Perhaps the greatest opportunity for a risk intelligence team is to anticipate questions and have a written product available for leaders before they can ask for it.

BLUF is Essential

Like government and military leaders, senior executives do not have time to read 30-page reports on the latest developments in a country or region. Providing the bottom line, up front (BLUF)—why does this matter to me or to the business?—is key. At SJM, our written products have ranged from 12-15 page comprehensive risk assessments on priority countries to short, one-paragraph assessments on a developing incident. Most of our products -- on topics such as Brexit or the security environment following a major attack -- will be two to three pages at most. Incident notifications and post-event assessments will also be posted on our internal travel security pages for use by future travelers. For executive, high-risk, or complicated travel, we prepare tailored travel briefs with safety and security information, specific guidance, and practical travel information. But whatever the format, providing answers to the ‘so what?’ questions the CEO or business units may have allows them to make strategic decisions. Additionally, in crisis events, being able to quickly provide insight and nuanced assessment of impacts to the business can provide leaders with a major advantage as they consider employee and company safety and shape the company’s response to disruptive, dynamic global events.

Sam Talbott is a Global Intelligence Analyst for St. Jude Medical, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Prior to joining St. Jude in May of 2015, he spent nearly four years as a political/military intelligence analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency at US Central Command. While at CENTCOM he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and served on the command briefing team, presenting daily intelligence and operational updates to the CENTCOM command staff. Before working in intelligence, Sam traveled widely while working in business development for a major educational assessment organization. He is Vice Chair of the Midwest Regional Analyst Roundtable (MRAR) and an AIRIP member.

 

Tags:  AIRIP  AIRIP News  Information Sharing  IntelligenceCareers  Networking  Risk Intelligence  WhatDoesARiskIntelligenceAnalystDo 

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#TBT :: Board Member and Intelligence Professional Charles Randolph on Things You Need to Tell Your Boss

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 4, 2016

Charles Randolph, Senior Director of Executive Protection, Event Security and Intelligence at Microsoft, and AIRIP Board Member shared the following on his personal blog in September 2015, but it remains relevant, so we're sharing today for a little #TBT.

A huge thank you to Charles for his insights and for his leadership on our board, and to Microsoft for their partnership and membership in AIRIP!
*****

Intelligence Analyst – Five things your boss is thinking but may not tell you: TWO is surprising and FIVE is vital

1 – I’m also a critical thinker, I just may not use the same vocabulary as you: Hey, I may not use the same language, but I’m also analytical (I may just not realize it). By doing operational analysis, I’m developing courses of action (COAs) and making mission assumptions based on the facts in front of me. When on an operation or in an emergency, I’ll be using what I have gathered and developing COAs based on pre-thought scenarios and trends that are manifesting. Just like you, I’m a critical thinker; please, remind me of that from time-to-time.

2 – I need you to help me, help you, to help me: Your request for information (RFI) process may not be the same one that I am familiar with. I also may not fully understand how to ask for what I need or am unsure of what you can do. Therefore, I need you to take the lead in this dance. Show me what you’ve got and suggest we walk through the operations plan (OPLAN) together. When we do that, listen and ask questions. As an operator, I may not care about the form you need filled out, I do need your insight and keen eye towards pattern analysis to see something I don’t. Honestly, I need you to be my partner and educate to develop me.

3 – Sometimes, I need you to slow down: You can get excited, I get it (and I like that about you). But, if I’m excited and you're excited and we are all excited….well, I need you to be the one to slow down and make sure we are paying attention to detail and managing the little things which always come up in the form of Mr. Murphy – and his damnable law. Offer up some advice, ensure you stuff is double-checked before you hit send and be that calming voice. I’ve got a lot going on and sometimes I may just need to see someone being outwardly steadfast.

4 – You don’t have a crystal ball, I know that… let me know what you think anyway: I get it, you’re not 100%. Guess what, neither am I. I don’t need you to be all knowing (although, secretly I wish you were). I just need you to give me the best understanding you have and say the same. If it doesn’t go down the way you describe, I may get cranky…but I don’t blame you (I’m probably blaming myself). No one expects the black swan’s arrival, but I need you to tell me when you think conditions may be right for impending issues.

Finally, and most important…

5 – I trust you: From the mundane to the insane, you’re my go-to! I may always not say it, but you are.  I have a healthy trust in your abilities. This is why I ask you to brief first, set the tone and put a ‘realistic’ filter on what’s happening. The interwebs opened up a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘breaking news' and I can’t always be sure it affects our situation. I know you have my back, you understand my needs, and will tell me what’s important in the din.  Because you’re intelligent, professional, curious and thoughtful… I trust you.

this is dedicated to all my favorite analysts…

****

Tags:  AIRIP  AIRIP Board  AIRIPMentoring  code of conduct  Information Sharing  Intelligence Outreach  IntelligenceCareers  Networking  Professional Development  Professional Standard  Risk Intelligence  Risk Intelligence Organization 

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To Share or Not to Share

Posted By Rachel Bode, Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Information Sharing as a Force Multiplier in Risk Intelligence Programs

Intelligence analysts in the private sector often function as a team of one. Information sharing groups have been a tremendous force multiplier for single analysts and small teams in the industry. So while teams of one intelligence analyst are less and less common, the need for information sharing and benchmarking remains. Governments have teams across agencies focusing on issues and sub-sets of issues, or whole countries down to very specific geographic areas. But an analyst in a private sector organization could be expected to produce analysis on macroeconomic impact of the Brexit one day, security conditions affecting facilities in a high threat security environment the next, and the reputation impact of a cyber breach the third.

Arian Avila, Director of Intelligence and Analysis for Bank of America’s Global Security team, and Corey Vitello, Senior Director of Global Safety and Security at Visa, explore Information Sharing in AIRIP’s first white paper.

  • Did you know there are example charters, and multiple group protocols to choose from?
  • What internal stakeholders should sign off on participation? Will you need to clear each information sharing exchange, or does clearance for participation in a group mean that any information can be shared over a period of time?
  • What will happen to information you share with other organizations? Will they protect your information?
  • What does the information sharing process look like?
  • How do you know what you can share outside your organization?
  • How do you, or can you, share with competitors?

Ms. Avila and Mr. Vitello outline these and other potential concerns for you to consider as you look at joining an information sharing group.


To Share or Not to Share      

 

AIRIP’s member portal has great information sharing capabilities, with discussion forums and common interest groups, as well as a knowledge library. There are also many informal information sharing groups within the private sector intelligence space. As a current and alumni member of these organizations, I can vouch for their trust and authenticity, as well as the value they have provided to my intelligence practice. I encourage you to read our white paper, and then consider using AIRIP as your information sharing platform, joining one of the other information sharing networks already in place, or starting your own. 

This White Paper is available to AIRIP Members via our member portal. To view the white paper, we invite you to Join AIRIP!

Tags:  AIRIP  AIRIP News  Information  Information Sharing  mission  Networking  Professional Standard  Risk Intelligence  White Paper 

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