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What does a Risk Intelligence Analyst do in a non-profit organization?

Posted By Rachel Bode, Monday, October 10, 2016

This is a guest post by AIRIP member Shana Tarbell. Ms. Tarbell is the Deputy Director for Risk and Threat Analysis within the Global Security Team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She has 18 years of experience in the federal government crafting and overseeing intelligence analysis on a range of issues and countries, and has been in the non-profit sector for a year and a half.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private foundation in the world with roughly 1500 employees and an endowment of over $40 billion. Guided by the belief that all lives have equal value, the Foundation works in developing countries to improve health and give people a chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, we seek to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. To accomplish these goals, we fund about $4 billion in grants and innovative partnerships per year, often taking financial risks that governments and the private sector will not or cannot take. The Foundation’s headquarters are in Seattle, and it has offices in Washington, DC, London, Beijing, Abuja, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, and New Delhi and Patna, India.

I came to the Foundation last summer after 18 years producing and overseeing intelligence analysis on a range of issues in the federal government, and now serve as the Deputy Director for Risk and Threat Analysis within the Global Security Team. I was drawn to the non-profit sector by the prospect of being able to bring my analytic skills and management experience to bear on a different, but equally compelling mission. There are many similarities between the analytic work in the government and the non-profit sector, to include a need to develop a solid understanding of the needs of your audience, to craft clear intelligence questions, to ensure that analytic judgments are well supported and to write in a clear and concise manner. The team I lead has a brought set of responsibilities and a diverse customer set, ranging from working-level colleagues in the Foundation’s support units to the senior leadership of the programs that are directly engaged in carrying out the Foundation’s mission around the world. 

Our analytic work covers six areas:

Risk to Overseas Travelers and Offices. Foundation personnel travel to and in some cases live in far-flung regions of the world, where they gather information to best target resources, oversee grants, and consult with partners. Often the locations with the greatest need are in countries facing the greatest security challenges. Our job is to produce assessments of the risks to Foundation travelers and local operations, which can trigger additional security protocols, or potentially lead to a decision by Foundation leaders that the risks outweigh the benefits of travel to a particular destination. Our analysts scour open-source information, consult with Foundation personnel in our regional offices, and compare notes with counterparts in other organizations and with other experts.

Political and Security Challenges. In addition to assessment immediate threats to Foundation personnel traveling to or living in an area, our analysts work to identify relevant political and security developments and emerging threats in a country or region that may have an impact on Foundation staff, operations, or grantees working there. For example, we recently produced a piece highlighting the implications for Foundation operations of the leadership split in Boko Haram. Our flagship product is an annual assessment of the anticipated security challenges over the next year in each of the countries in which the Foundation is operating or considering operating. Its publication is timed to support the program offices’ annual strategy development process.

Persons of Interest. Our team assesses the risk from individuals who have demonstrated a potentially threatening interest in or attitude toward the Foundation and its staff. We track and review their correspondence and communication with the Foundation, looking for indicators that the latest research in this field tells us might show signs of escalation toward an imminent violent act. When a potential threat is identified, we work closely with our partners in the Security Team and our legal department, and with local and Federal law enforcement to take appropriate steps to mitigate any threat. We produce a monthly summary of the most important cases to enhance the situational awareness of the Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer and the General Counsel, as well as other members of the legal and Security Team.

Opposing Voices. The Foundation’s humanitarian efforts have earned it widespread respect and support, but some groups oppose various aspects of its work or investments. Most often these views are expressed peacefully, but it is our team’s job to look for signs that a group or members of it might be planning to commit violence or to physically disrupt Foundation offices or operations. When such signs emerge, we alert Foundation leaders and we work with our guard force, other security elements, and law enforcement to ensure that appropriate security measures are put in place.  

Due Diligence. As part of the Foundation’s processes for choosing grantees and making other investments, we look for reputational concerns or violations of US international sanctions and corruption regulations.

New Hires. In collaboration with human resources, we manage the Foundation’s background screening process. We verify that candidates have represented themselves honestly and assess whether an applicant might pose a security, behavioral, or financial risk.

Legal Disclaimer

This material is provided for information purposes only and does not represent professional advice. We make no representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of the material and do not undertake to keep recipients advised of relevant developments. This material should not be relied upon to validate, endorse, or recommend any particular data, product, service, methodology, or organization, whether named or not. Accordingly, we expect you will consult competent professional advisors, as you deem necessary, when evaluating and utilizing this material. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation shall not be held responsible for any claims or losses that may arise from any error or omission herein.

Tags:  Intelligence Outreach  IntelligenceCareers  Risk Intelligence  Risk Intelligence Organization  travel  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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AIRIP Welcomes Three New Board Members

Posted By Rachel Bode, Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Association of International Risk Intelligence Professionals (AIRIP) is pleased to welcome Alan Orlob, Charles Randolph and Dawn Scalici to AIRIP’s board. They join our current board members, Paul Florence, Jessica Hern, Linda Millis and Meredith Wilson. As a group, the board oversees AIRIP’s finances, sets strategic direction, consults on new and on-going initiatives, sets organization governance plans, and act as ambassadors for the organization.

 

Serving on a non-profit board is a time commitment, and we are thankful for their support as we move into AIRIP’s second year. These board members, elected by the current AIRIP board, will serve AIRIP at a time of growth and change for the organization. They will attend their first board meeting in August, and we use that time to begin planning the next stages of growth for the organization, as well as check-in on some current initiatives. They will get the opportunity to see these initiatives into fruition as they serve a three-year term.

 

We are excited for the possibilities that leadership growth can bring to AIRIP, including membership growth, increased visibility, online community engagement, event attendance, and more.

 

Full board member bios are available on our new AIRIP Leadership page!

 

AIRIP Board Members:

Paul Florence, Vice President, Concentric Advisors

Jessica Hern, Global Intelligence Manager, St. Jude Medical

Linda Millis, Executive Director, The Daniel Morgan Academy

Alan Orlob, Vice President Global Safety and Security, Marriott International

Charles Randolph, Senior Director Executive Protection, Event  Security and Intelligence, Microsoft

Dawn Scalici, Government Global Business Director, Thomson Reuters

Meredith Wilson, Founder and CEO, Emergent Risk International

Tags:  AIRIP  AIRIP Board  AIRIP News  mission  Risk Intelligence  Risk Intelligence Organization 

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Building Resilience in Risk Intelligence

Posted By Rachel Bode, Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Meredith Wilson, Founder of Emergent Risk International , and AIRIP Board Member, with collaborative input from Rachel Bode, Founder of the Association for International Risk and Intelligence Professionals, recently published an article on LinkedIn. The post, Building Resilience in Risk Intelligence, is included here:

Building Resilience in Risk Intelligence 

Intelligence, when done well, should be a valued function that organizations think twice about before cutting head count – especially in a downturn.  This is demonstrated clearly in companies where risk intelligence has become a vital function that grows in spite of downsizing.  But it can go the other way too: functions that fail to demonstrate their strategic relevance are often the first to go (although they can also go for myriad unrelated reasons over which personnel may have no control at all). More than established professional functions with clear missions, risk intelligence professionals still need to consistently demonstrate their mission, value, and why they are a need-to-have, rather than a nice-to-have function. 
 
Here are a few thoughts on how to increase the resilience of your risk intelligence team (even if you are a team of one):
 
Be VERY smart on your business. 
 
Your team needs to know the business they are working in and align with its needs and priorities.  For example, risk intelligence professionals in a heavy commodities trading company need to take the necessary time to understand what that entails and how it affects the company’s risk profile.  If you work for a technology company with 20 different lines of business, over time, the team needs to understand each of those lines of business.  By not doing so, the team risks becoming seen as something that can be outsourced in a downturn.  After all, why pay for an in-house intelligence team if a contractor can provide roughly the same general analysis that doesn’t account for the specificity of the business? 
 
Be smart on what businesses are talking about.
 
In his annual letter to shareholders, Warren Buffet warned of the instability that a successful attack on the U.S. economy could have. He continues on to discuss the inability “for investors and corporations to shed this risk”. 
 
“There is, however, one clear, present and enduring danger to Berkshire against which Charlie and I are powerless. That threat to Berkshire is also the major threat our citizenry faces: a “successful” (as defined by the aggressor) cyber, biological, nuclear or chemical attack on the United States. That is a risk Berkshire shares with all of American business. ... Subsequently, we’ve had a few close calls but avoided catastrophic destruction. We can thank our government – and luck! – for this result.”
 
Analysts can highlight thought leadership of individuals like Warren Buffett in program justification, strategy development and analytical thought. Including references to relevant business leaders shows that you understand your business, its peers and competitors, and the current economy, bringing additional credibility to your work as a business advisor. To use Mr. Buffett’s words: businesses can never fully “shed the risk” of catastrophic events, but as a risk intelligence advisor with business credibility, risk intelligence becomes a key partner in understanding the breadth of risks, planning for strategies for mitigating loss and taking advantage of opportunities afforded by a rapidly changing global business environment. 
 
Take time to build a strategy.
 
Risk intelligence functions are often one-person teams with competing fires to address daily. Prolonged work like this for years, constantly reporting threats and bad news, can feel like progress and added value. Especially for those who like a very fast paced environment, this constant crisis mode activity seems like “what we should be doing.” In reality, colleagues may be wondering what it is we do all day. Many executives especially are well read, with tight leadership across their regions and businesses. They likely know the issue and business impact before an analyst can. Thus, no matter how many fires we put out, we need to do the deep thinking and deep work to add strategic value to our business.  That requires a strategy of your own.  What is the unique perspective and value add that your team brings to the business? How do you leverage that value?  How do you build in time for strategic work? How do you present analysis in a manner that is engaging and drives innovation (especially when we’re used to telling the bad news stories)? Warning executives about travel risks is important, but can easily be outsourced.  Demonstrating the strategic impact of long-term geopolitical issues and highlighting opportunities based on your unique knowledge of the company footprint overlaid with your risk intelligence subject matter expertise cannot be so easily replaced.
 
Drop the jargon.
 
Risk intelligence professionals, like most professionals, tend to have a certain vernacular that we use with our colleagues.  Often it is a combination of words utilized during our government service days, and words we’ve picked up from colleagues who do the same.  Within circles of like-minded professionals, this is fine.  In our writing and communication with our business partners, it is not.  To communicate in this manner risks looking like an outsider in your own company, and/or alienating people with scary sounding communications.  Think about ways to eliminate or greatly reduce the use of words like threat, violence, and other highly negative words in your writing and speech (you can still convey risk without overuse of these types of words).  Study other modes of communication to find a style that will work within your business. Evaluate your writing for too many phrases and hyperbolic words that imply alarmism.  All of these things increase the perception of risk intelligence as a barrier to business, instead of being a vital part of business growth (which it is!).
 
Build the profession.
 

Because it is still a young profession, there is still so much room for creativity and new approaches to our field.  It is also still in a nascent phase of development that requires more standards and structure to truly professionalize it.  Consider taking a committee or supporting role in helping to better develop the profession through organizations like the Association for International Risk and Intelligence Professionals (AIRIP), the Analyst Roundtables, or other organizations working to promote and professionalize the risk intelligence profession.  Write an article for LinkedIn or a professional risk management publication.  The more we build the field and create professional standards around what it means to be a risk intelligence professional, the better business will be able to understand the true power of our profession to build business resilience. 
 
Take a few steps back.
 
As hard as it can be to set aside the immediate; in order to do our jobs well, we sometimes need to take a few steps back and think about whether we are doing the job to the best of our ability.  Are we so busy answering the mail that we are leaving much of our talent and potential value add on the table?  Next time you have a breather, sit down and start working on that strategy.  Set aside two hours on your calendar every week to focus just on this – no emails, no phone calls, no scanning the news. What are your goals for strategic work?  Do they align with your company’s strategic priorities? How can you position your function to assist with this type of work?  How can you show thought leadership within your role?  Build bridges with your internal business partners, build knowledge of their roles, build a strategy for success and you will build resilience for your intelligence function and for your business.
 

    

 

Tags:  AIRIP  AIRIP News  Information  resilience  Risk Intelligence  Risk Intelligence Organization 

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AIRIP Launch a SUCCESS!

Posted By Rachel Bode | AIRIP CEO, Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Risk Intelligence Trade Association

Thank you for the overwhelming response to the AIRIP launch! We have had such a great time this week chatting with you by phone and e-mail about the many possibilities and promise for this organization. Many of you have signed up as members, and others have committed you and your teams to joining. It’s such a confirmation of the need for this organization and this work, and we are excited to get it started with you!

The great response to the organization means that we can move forward right away on finalizing the scope for the next phase of our website, which will include a members-only portal. Many of you have asked for things like a member directory, a discussion forum, and a library of program documents. It’s coming! We are excited to be able to move forward on these things.

We are also excited to meet each and every one of you – members and prospective members alike – at our Inaugural Event on November 17 in Washington D.C. Don’t forget to register and get your tickets soon! There will be breakfast, networking, and a great line-up of speakers. Tickets are free for those who become members by September 30, 2015.

Thank you again for the great welcome! We are so excited to take this step in formalizing the work of the risk intelligence profession.

Tags:  AIRIP  AIRIP News  Risk Intelligence Organization 

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