At MI6, our mission is simple. To protect the security and economic wellbeing of the UK. But the challenges we face to achieve that mission are incredibly complex. And we know it’s crucial we have a diverse organisation to be successful.
Learn what it’s like to be an Intelligence Officer and about Carla’s experience being a woman of colour at the UK’s Intelligence Agencies.
“I feel honoured and privileged to be an Intelligence Officer (IO) at MI6. I get a unique perspective of worldwide events and have influence in the decisions we make to protect the security and economic wellbeing of the UK. Best of all? Every day, I get to do work that I know directly impacts the safety of the nation.
“If you didn’t know the mission behind it, the work we do might look like an everyday office job.”
Of course, I can’t go into too much detail about what we do, but our goal is to gather and deliver critical intelligence that will inform the best approach to protecting our national security. You’ll research, review, and plan. It’s varied, interesting work. You might be focusing on a particular investigation one day and reporting progress the next. There’s also loads of creative problem-solving involved and chances to collaborate with different stakeholders and different agencies, like the MOD.
Intelligence Officers cover four main areas. We have Targeting Officers, who analyse data to be turned into real-life intelligence operations. Case Officers, who build and manage relationships with agents (those who provide us with intelligence). Reporting Officers, who analyse, validate, and test the intelligence before briefing government officials. And finally, there are Operational Managers, who plan and manage the collection of intelligence. If you didn’t know the mission behind it, the work we do might look like an everyday office job. And you’ll certainly be using everyday skills. But you’ll also be tackling extraordinary challenges.
“The Agencies understand how important it is that we represent the communities we serve.”
You’ll need to be curious, communicative, and keen to learn. All skills you might naturally have. And you’ll complete a three-year training pathway when you join, so you’ll be given every opportunity to find your feet and learn from those around you. We’re all working towards the same goal, so collaboration is key. Everyone is supportive, so as well as the mentors you have access to, you’ll also be able to lean on your colleagues when you need to.
What I learnt quickly was that my cultural background is a strength and benefit to my role as an IO. How I understand the world and my perspective as a woman of colour is valuable in supporting successful operations to protect the UK. Not only are we communicating with a diverse group of people, but we’re also protecting them. So the Agencies understand how important it is that we represent the communities we serve.
“You might be surprised at how open and friendly it is here and soon, you’ll feel right at home.”
Bringing together people with different cultures, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, and sexual orientations (to name a few) is the best way to strengthen our workforce, because one dimensional thinking is detrimental to our mission. To do that, there needs to be an inclusive environment, where everyone feels safe to be their whole selves. And that’s what I’ve experienced. There’s a clear effort to increase diversity here, including affinity groups, marking a range of cultural events, and recruiting people from ethnic minority backgrounds at all levels.
I’m so happy I decided to work at MI6. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, but my advice is to take a leap and apply, it’ll be worth it. You might be surprised at how open and friendly it is here and soon, you’ll feel right at home. I’ve learnt so many new skills and so much about myself along the way. And while it’s a highly sensitive job that we’re not able to talk about, I’m quietly confident that what I do is saving lives every day.”
Want to be part of it? Find out if you’ve got the skills to become an Intelligence Officer at MI6 by playing Finding Kloos, now.