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Career Interview with Gareth Westwood

Gareth works as a Senior Manager in the Global Security Intelligence team at a major pharmaceutical firm. Find out what advice he has for someone who wants to become successful in the corporate security sector.

Connect with Gareth on LinkedIn.

Gareth, where do you work now and what exactly is it that you do?

I have built and now manage a small team at a major pharmaceutical firm that provide insight and intelligence support to the Global Security team and its stakeholders.

Can you tell us more about the industry that you are working in?

Corporate security has long been a feature of Pharma, given the industry’s size and scope. Intelligence teams, depending on the company range from being well established to reasonably new. It’s a growing capability within Pharma companies and I’ve seen intelligence teams support physical security, travel security, investigations, personnel security, insider threat, business continuity and more.  

The work I do is mainly limited to supporting various aspects of physical security and investigations.

What skills, knowledge, and background are required to work in your industry?

I think the skills and experience required for corporate intelligence teams map across industries.

Most of my professional colleagues are split into two categories:

  • Former public sector intelligence professionals from the military, law enforcement or intelligence community
  • Graduates who’ve undertaken study in such fields as security, intelligence and international relations

Certainly at the mid - higher levels, a background in intelligence analysis and reporting are required, be that from service in the public sector or within a corporate intelligence environment. However, at the entry level, the basics required could have been obtained from a university degree or indeed, another sector in which critical thinking and report writing is undertaken.

In your view, what are the top skills/attributes to have for becoming successful in your area?

This really depends on what the corporate intelligence team are set up to do. Some of the skills within me and my team include:

  • Intelligence analysis
  • Exemplary report writing
  • Ability to reduce complexity into concise meaningful insight
  • Experience using data and data analysis software
  • Open source and advanced open source research techniques
  • Understanding of global security issues
  • Horizon scanning – ability to see, quantify and describe threat and resulting risk
  • Experience with common software platforms – ability to quickly adapt to new software
  • An inquisitive mindset
  • Stakeholder management
  • Project management and workflow prioritisation skills

Where and how did you land your first job?

My first job was in teaching.

My first intelligence and security job was gained through joining the British Military.

Looking back at how you started and where you are today, what advice do you have for someone who wants to pursue a similar career or even transition to the field you are working in?

Don’t rule out anything. Even if you think you’re not suited. Apply for everything.

Get out there and interview – you never know what opportunities have in store and at worst, you’ve practiced your interview technique.

If you were to hire people in your team, what would you look for? 

  • Quick thinking and ability to see two and three steps ahead – what does this mean, how does it affect us and what could we do next.
  • Excellent presentation and report writing skills.
  • Ability to reduce complex issues into short, concise insights

Looking at your career, is there anything you would do differently today if you had the chance to travel back in time?

I’d have started my career in the military a lot sooner!

Where and how do you develop yourself professionally?

The internet is a wonderful place for development. Much excellent training is free. However, it’s no substitute (at the start of your career) for formal training in intelligence.  

Are there any websites, books, podcasts, or anything else that you would recommend for professional development (does not have to be OSINT related)?

  • The business of intelligence podcast
  • The Breadcrumbs podcast
  • Intelligence matters podcast

Books:

  • Structured analytical techniques for intelligence analysts
  • The internet intelligence and investigations handbook
  • Psychology of Intelligence Analysis
  • Reasoning for Intelligence Analysts
  • The Thinker's Tool Kit
  • Cases in Intelligence Analysis
  • Risk (McCrystal) 

Useful information sources (in no particular order):

https://osintframework.com/

https://rr.reuser.biz/

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18rtqh8EG2q1xBo2cLNyhIDuK9jrPGwYr9DI2UncoqJQ/htmlview

https://www.crisisgroup.org/

https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/

https://centralops.net/co/

https://acleddata.com/#/dashboard

https://www.gdeltproject.org/

and many many more!.....

There are a multitude of courses out there.Do link up with me on LinkedIn if you'd like recommendations, any more info on the above or just a chin wag!

[End of interview]

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