The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Work In the Private Intelligence Sector
Almost every job that is given to us, we can almost always do with ease after some training, education, or experience. We may or may not know the information up front, but we research, gather, analyze, collect, and organize through data in order to understand what we are after.
A teacher may need to come up with new lesson plans each week, figuring out what and how to teach a lesson plan for that week. A nurse or a doctor may need to do some research on a specific disease or a common ailment that their patients may be complaining about more often recently. An attorney or a lawyer may need to review hundreds of cases to figure out how to solve a current one. A psychologist may need to research the issues a patient is having to understand how to approach a current situation. A chemist may need to look at medications used in the past in order to understand how to solve a current chemical imbalance.
No matter what job we have, there is always a type of learning process that goes on. Some of these jobs are very interesting to us, while others might bore us. Obviously, we have different interests and choose different fields, according to our own preferences.
There is a field of work becoming extremely popular, not just in government and the public sector, but the private sector as well, in the area of research and investigation. There are many people and organizations wanting to find out different types of information, but lack the resources to do so, and end up turning to external sources for solutions.
They may hire these external sources to figure out what is happening within or outside of an organization, such as money embezzlement, product mismanagement, malpractice, abuse, and even tax evasion practices. The private intelligence agency may be assigned to a project that could take months and years of hidden investigations, but for those individuals who have to do these jobs, they may find it very exciting, as they assume an identity or remain undercover for long periods of time, sometimes even working as a double agent.
Private Intelligence is a pretty strong growing industry and people are always needed to do the job. While the mascot or the character that comes to mind may be the “capitalistic James Bond”, these individuals are not given as many advanced technological gadgets and their resources may not be unlimited, but they can be considered as creative consultants, who may have to come up with quick solutions to problems they may face.
This is my interview with Stian Fossheim, a consultant from a Private Intelligence Agency.
What is your name?
What were your interests growing up as a child or teenager?
To be honest, I am not even sure what I could put on my top ten list. I was interested in everything, I loved to read and watch documentaries. And I loved to learn new things even though I hated school. I was that geeky kid that every week would sit with a book about either psychology, philosophy, or history.
What were your interests in college or as a young adult?
Very much the same, but I never really finished college. Being committed to just studying one thing was boring and the school provided little challenge. So I eventually dropped out and started working.
What do you do for work?
These days I own a couple of small and medium-sized businesses in the EU and Norway, but on a day to day basis, I work in Private Intelligence.
How did you get your current job?
I started as a freelance analyst and consultant, and because I had always been interested in “everything”, I was really good at connecting the dots when it came to trade policies, financial markets, and foreign policy. After doing some freelance work for SIG and Stratfor, I eventually started my own company.
What was a defining moment in your career?
Me and my company did a job for the Russian public sector. We were tasked with tracing money transfers to several Islamist groups in the Balkans. Radical Wahabbist had arrived in Eastern Europe over the last decade, telling local Muslims who have never opened the Qu’ran that it was their duty to strap on dynamite and blow up buses and subways.
It was feared that a foreign power or someone very influential were financing these new radical groups and several companies, mine included, were hired to do money traces to find the source of it, and we did. This job was a defining moment to me personally because I know we had helped to prevent several bombings in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Why did you choose this career path?
I didn’t, actually. I never knew what I wanted to do for a living, and have worked as everything from a photographer, writer, salesman, translator, and programmer. I needed the money and by sheer luck, I got some gigs from other companies in the field to work as a freelancer. This is the first job where I can truly use all of my skills and knowledge, and no day is the same at the office.
What is one thing you would change about your company?
Nothing. Of course, as a medium-sized company we have our challenges, but that is what makes it fun. The challenge and the fight to beat your competitors and become better. Without challenges and room for improvement, we would stagnate, and I dare say that is a universal truth in the corporate world.
What is one thing you would change about your life?
See my answer above and that is the only thing I could possibly say here. I am very content with where I am today.
If you could leave a legacy or be known as doing something great for your company, what would it be?
Well, I started this company so maybe that counts?
Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into your career field?
This is gonna sound clichê but: Be yourself. Seriously, this is a very fascinating field to work in, and whether or not you get the job all depends on you as a person, not your education or previous work experience.
We need a very large variation of skills and knowledge, everything from psychology, history, economics, programming, hacking, writing, languages, travel experience, salesmanship and more. A military background is obviously a big advantage, but it is not necessary.