In this blog series, we shine a light on pivotal roles within physical security, uncovering the challenges and surprises that aren’t familiar to all employees.
There isn’t an action or behavior that doesn’t matter to a Protective Intelligence Analyst. The role might seem like an odd fit to outsiders, since “an analyst’s contributions usually look quite different from the work done by ‘typical’ protectors, such as law enforcement, military, or security officers,” says Matthew Stouffer, Security Intelligence Analyst at a Fortune 500 automaker. He goes on to share that “because of the level of detail at an analyst’s disposal, they are often asked to answer questions that no one else within the organization can.”
In an effort to highlight the lesser known motivations and attributes that Protective Intelligence Analysts strive for each day, we captured the thoughts of three leaders in the space. Here’s what we learned:
Key Insights from Successful Analysts
After asking protective intelligence practitioners at a leading cryptocurrency exchange what a successful day or week looks like, the following insights rose to the top of the list:
Identify What’s Important Today — Finding the right answers requires sifting through the ‘noise,’ and identifying when it’s necessary to jump down that rabbit hole. However, just as important is knowing when it’s time to come back out of the rabbit hole and refocus efforts.
Select Resources to Inform Action — Research often involves an array of open and closed-source tools, methods, and depositories to collect intelligence on a person, company, event, or issue of interest to the protectee. The analyst can take all the bits of information and piece them together to fully understand the nature of the issue at hand. This information fuels the protective intelligence team to make recommendations to its protectees about how to reduce inherent risks or stop an incoming threat in its tracks.
Know Your Audience — Ensuring these findings resonate to “internal business units, the protectees, and other stakeholders can be as important as the work itself,” says a Global Protective Intelligence Manager at a leading cryptocurrency exchange. He shares that it’s proven beneficial to carry out each project and investigation with the audience in mind.
Top Attributes of a Protective Intelligence Analyst
While daunting to some people, “the challenge of solving new problems every day is one of the most interesting parts of the job,” shares Stouffer. The high-stakes issues analysts face on a daily basis have real-world consequences, impacting not only the financial success of the company, but also the physical safety of employees.
Like any profession, Stouffer shares that there’s room for many different skill sets and personalities, but some overarching attributes of successful analysts include:
Resilience – Working in protective services, even as an analyst, often involves stressful circumstances and exposure to unpleasant situations and concepts.
Adaptability – A wide range of problem sets requires an analyst to quickly absorb new ideas and information. In many organizations, an analyst’s job responsibilities can also change rapidly.
Critical Thinking – At the core of an analyst’s job is their ability to approach a problem or question with a mix of logic, curiosity, and outside-the-box thinking — all while striving to recognize and eliminate bias from the analysis. Richard Pittenger, Intelligence Analyst for the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) shares, “As professionals, we focus on the protectees’ safety, regardless of whether we agree or not with their politics.”
For some common interview questions and guidance on assessing analysts’ skill sets, check out our blog posts on Top 5 Questions to Prepare for Your Security Analyst Interview and How to Recruit and Select a Protective Intelligence Analyst.
Prioritizing Reflection and Self Care
Above all else, the protective intelligence analyst role requires self discipline to step away from the speed of changing information and take care of oneself when the time is right. “Given the long hours, constant alerts, increasing threats, low margins for error, and minimal resources, analysts are at risk for burnout,” shares Pittenger. It’s important for analysts to find support to manage the chronic workplace stress, compounded by their personal stressors. This not only prevents mistakes, but also decreases the protectees’ vulnerability.
We hope this article provides a small glimpse into the world of a protective intelligence analyst — arguably one of the most critical components of a successful corporate security team.