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Louisa Richey has worked as an analyst at the Defence Intelligence Organisation
in Canberra for two-and-a-half years. She recently spoke to Defence about why she loves her job.

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What does your role involve?

As a DIO intelligence analyst, I monitor and analyse material on overseas national security developments to produce intelligence assessments. My assessments directly inform the decisions of senior leaders, including the Defence Minister, Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force.

DIO is a dynamic work environment, where analysts regularly produce intelligence assessments on fast-breaking international security developments, as well as strategic, longer-term trends.

Like every analyst at DIO, I am a subject matter expert. Each day, I read and synthesise vast quantities of information – both open source and classified – to keep abreast of developments in my area. I also brief senior officers – within Defence and wider government – which gives me a great opportunity to represent DIO and directly interact with my audience.

What is your background?

I have a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the Australian National University. In 2009, I joined the Defence Graduate Development Program, completing rotations in complaints resolution, policy development and DIO. At the end of the program, I was accepted into DIO and have worked as an analyst on two high-profile country desks, as well as within the executive branch. Last year, I was also seconded to the Independent Review of the Intelligence Community.

What have been among the highlights during your time at DIO?

One of the most satisfying moments during my time as an analyst was briefing the CDF and Secretary at the Strategic Command Group regarding security developments on a current ADF operation. Based on my intelligence assessments, the CDF tasked a senior Defence officer to modify a current campaign plan. It was exhilarating to know that my work had made a real difference.

I’ve also had many opportunities to travel within Australia and overseas. Most recently, I accompanied Director DIO on a trip to the United Kingdom and Italy to attend a NATO conference and bilateral meetings with our international partners.

DIO offers exciting, unique development opportunities for its analysts at all levels. During my six-month secondment to the Independent Review of the Intelligence Community – the first comprehensive review of the Australian intelligence community since 2004 – I worked as an integral part of a small, senior-level team. This role offered me an insight into the inner workings of the intelligence community and expanded my understanding of government. In addition, because of my time on secondment, I think more strategically and have a larger network of contacts to draw upon in the future.

What have been some challenges and how did you overcome them?

As an analyst, my main challenge is to anticipate and quickly assess rapidly evolving, high profile issues and their impact on Australia’s security and strategic environment. Developments often take place overnight, which requires analysts to produce clear assessments to very tight deadlines. Soon after joining DIO, I determined the best approach was to think methodically, draw on my expertise and collaborate closely with my colleagues.

Most analysts in DIO are generalists, with strong tradecraft skills allowing them to move ‘targets’ many times over their career. When I moved country desks, I had little background knowledge of my new target, but through reading widely, attending briefings and drawing on the support of my new team members, I quickly got up to speed.

Having come straight from university, I initially found working in a Top Secret environment quite challenging – it permeates every aspect of work at DIO. With great respect for the necessity of robust security measures, I have enjoyed the challenge of embracing simple, but important, changes to the way I do business. And thankfully, working ‘behind the wire’ means I can’t take my work home at night!