Intelligence Fusion Employee Spotlight: Max Taylor
Max is our Senior Regional Analyst responsible for overseeing Intelligence Fusion's coverage of the Middle East and Asia.
Between Max and fellow SRA, Vincent, it's difficult to know exactly who has consumed the most office donuts. In our latest employee spotlight, we got to know him a little better...
What’s your role at Intelligence Fusion?
I am the Senior Regional Analyst for the Asia region
How long have you worked here?
I first started at Intelligence Fusion as an intern in 2016. I became a full-time member of staff in 2019.
What first attracted you to Intelligence Fusion?
I’ve always been interested in world affairs, particularly from a security perspective, and found the role at IF to be a great way to direct this interest into something valuable.
What does a typical day look like for you?
The core of my role is incident reporting, i.e. finding information from local news sources and other open sources on security-related issues and reporting them on our platform.
Our platform is built around a map, and so each incident needs to be geo-located and positioned. Currently, I cover three regions within Asia (Middle East, Central Asia and the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.) This means that in the course of one day, I can at times cover quite a range of incidents, for example I could spend the morning gathering information regarding fighting in Syria’s Idlib province, and the afternoon gathering details about protests in Kazakhstan.
…we have strong coverage in our regions where others may spend less time developing their own sources. This helps us dig a little deeper under the surface and adds some additional value to our work.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
I like the learning side of the role. With the analyst team covering so many regions, it is important for us to continually take in and retain information about the countries we report on.
I always find it interesting reading about security and political themes within countries that perhaps would not feature in international media coverage. Before long, we can develop quite a strong understanding of security/political issues in a specific country or region which we can continually add to on a day to day basis.
What do you like most about working in this industry?
The industry itself is quite broad, as civilian open source intelligence can include anything from business intelligence, to monitoring fraudulent insurance claims to analysing Islamic State activity in Iraq. The industry therefore has a lot of interesting people in it from multiple different sectors and backgrounds.
What were you doing before you took on your current role?
I began my internship whilst studying for my Masters Degree and was offered a full-time role off the back of that. So, I was fortunate to have been able to take on the role shortly after leaving university.
What advice do you have for prospective interns or analysts?
Gaining experience in the sector can be quite difficult but is vital, particularly if you’re looking to get in to the sector straight from university as many do.
With this in mind, I would strongly recommend taking part in an internship or a similar programme in order to bridge the gap between your previous experience (whether that be from university or from professional work in another sector) and the skills needed in the intelligence sector.
In your opinion, what sets Intelligence Fusion apart from other providers?
With our analysts being tasked with covering the same country or region for long periods of time, we all as individuals develop quite extensive lists of local sources.
Before long, we can develop quite a strong understanding of security/political issues in a specific country or region which we can continually add to on a day to day basis.
The result of this is that we have strong coverage in regions where others perhaps may spend less time developing their own sources. This helps us dig a little deeper under the surface and adds some additional value to our work.
How have you seen the company evolve since you first started?
In my time since starting as an intern it has changed a huge amount. When I started, there was an extensive team of interns but very few full-time staff. Now, the analytical team has grown to include multiple full-time members and consequently we’ve moved into a new, larger office space.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about your job?
In some cases, I know the map of cities I cover on a day to day basis better than I know the map of my own home town.
If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?
Any sports journalist. I enjoy watching pretty much any sport and I really like the idea of having to stay up to date with what certain teams are doing and how they are training etc. I sometimes even see a little bit of open source intelligence gathering in sports journalism and commentary so I like to think I could be good at it!
How would you describe your team in three words?
What is something you learned in the last week?
This week I have been trying to learn a little more about a splinter-faction of the Afghan Taliban and have been trawling through articles about them online. In doing so I’ve learnt a huge amount.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I try and keep myself busy, I’m currently taking language lessons in the evenings which has been challenging, but also very fulfilling. I also row for my local club, which means training every evening 6-7 days a week.
What is something that not many people know about you?
I love a pub quiz, especially the geography round, although I rarely win.
Max recently recorded a podcast with our CEO, Michael McCabe, following the assassination of Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. Max and Michael sat down to analyse and discuss a recent timeline of the US/Iran tensions, the implications of the assassination and the wider analysis of the current situation in Iraq and potential impact of the assassination on US interests in the country.
Catch up below: