Amazon recently posted a job description for an “Intelligence Analyst.” It came under fire because the description explicitly calls for tracking “threats” of labor organizing, which is generally illegal. But it’s also a fascinating snapshot into how leaders at Amazon talk (or doubletalk).
The listing, which was visible yesterday, is no longer live at Amazon, possibly because of the questionable legality of what it said about labor organizing. However, the previously posted version is accessible through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
Can you talk like an intelligence anlayst at Amazon?
Here’s the listing and my translation. I’ve added italic to indicate jargon and vague weasel words. My general impression: no human being could possibly do all of these things, nor should they.
Amazon’s Global Security Operations’ (GSO) Global Intelligence Program (GIP) is looking for an entrepreneurial intelligence analyst to join a team of analysts providing high-level tactical and strategic intelligence products to global stakeholders within Amazon Worldwide Operations. Our team is located in the Phoenix, Arizona area.
Commentary: “Tactical” means urgent threat or opportunity. Strategic means threats or opportunities that take longer to develop. It’s that simple, but words like “tactical” and “strategic” make it sound fancier. “Stakeholders” means just about anyone who could read what you write.
Translation: Seeking intelligent paranoid people to identify both immediate and long-term threats to Amazon.
This role is vital to ensuring that Amazon operations leadership have access to actionable intelligence that informs decision making on a global scale. Ideal candidates will have a proven history of producing accurate intelligence products, operating with a high degree of independence, and strong acumen for learning and applying business concepts for private-sector intelligence products. Analysts must be capable of identifying developments, assessing their direct and indirect impacts to Amazon, and clearly communicating intelligence findings to stakeholders, up to and including executive leadership.
Commentary: The vagueness of this is creepy in itself. Think a minute. What is “actionable intelligence?” How would you define “strong acumen?” What are “developments” and how can you identify them?
Translation: Your intellect should range freely and see patterns and threats in every event and trend everywhere. Then you should write down what Amazon ought to be afraid of and share it with leaders.
* Monitor various collection platforms for incidents that pose direct and indirect risk to Amazon operations, personnel, or brand; Analysts are expected to independently decide which incidents require additional investigation and validation for reporting directly to senior leadership, up to Director-level customers
Commentary: I hate calling other employees that consume what you create “customers.” It’s not a customer relationship, since they don’t pay you and can’t choose another supplier.
Translation: You’re on your own. Use whatever data sources you want: we need plausible deniability. You decide what to share with us. If you miss something or cause us to take unwise action, that’s on you.
* Provide written and verbal briefings of intelligence assessments that are error-free, accurate, and timely; Intelligence briefs must go beyond reporting the facts and provide managers and senior leadership with actionable insights and information that will influence company response
* Analysts are expected to communicate directly with L6-10 stakeholders as situations warrant, and are relied upon by these stakeholders to immediately and accurately brief latest on dynamic situations, including protests, geopolitical crises, conflicts impacting operations, and other topics sensitive to Human Resources and Employee Relations
* Analysts must be capable of engaging and informing L7+ ER Principals (attorney stakeholders) on sensitive topics that are highly confidential, including labor organizing threats against the company, establish and track funding and activities connected to corporate campaigns (internal and external) against Amazon, and provide sophisticated analysis on these topics
Commentary: These words are meaningless: “error-free” (everyone makes mistakes), “accurate” (same), “sophisticated” (impossible to define). How would you know whether something was sophisticated? The language around “labor organizing threats” shouldn’t have been said in print — I’m sure they do it, but they’re not supposed to talk about it. (In case you are wondering, L6, L7, and so on refer to management levels at Amazon.)
Translation: Be perfect and without flaws. Deliver insights nobody else has when looking at the same data everyone else is. Brief busy and powerful people. Be on-demand at any time of day or night. Analyze geopolitical trends and political upheavals. Talk about secret stuff Amazon doesn’t want others to know, including who is organizing employee unions and how to stop them.
* Individual analysts will work directly with Sr. Corporate Counsel to compile and provide assessments for use in court filings, up to and including restraining orders against activist groups; intelligence assessments are used by Legal to demonstrate to court of law that activist groups harbor intent for continued illegal activity vis-à-vis Amazon
* Analysts are tasked with independently managing intelligence support relationship with L8 regional leadership, including maintaining regular communications, requirements meetings, and other engagements necessary to establishing product requirements and KPIs
* Analysts must be capable of creating and deploying sophisticated search strings tailored to various business interests and used to monitor for future risk; Engaging business leaders (L6+) directly is core to this support, and may cover topics including organized labor, activist groups, hostile political leaders
* Analysts are expected to close knowledge gaps by initiating and maintaining engagement with topical subject matter experts on topics of importance to Amazon, including hate groups, policy initiatives, geopolitical issues, terrorism, law enforcement, and organized labor
Translation: You have to be comfortable working with lawyers and national Amazon leaders. You have to be really good with Google and similar spying tools. You need to be paranoid enough to do whatever it takes to undermine Amazon’s enemies. And you need a network of experts that can give you the dirt on those folks.
* Analysts will engage in vendor performance management through regular communications of expectations, logging instances in which vendors do not meet contractual expectations, communicating corrective action expectations directly to vendors, and escalating as appropriate
* Analysts will develop tools in-house to meet needs of intelligence products, including Excel macros, data visualizations, SQL queries, or other technical solution for displaying and exploiting intelligence data; These tools will generally have a customer-facing output
* Analysts will be required to manage vendor engagement when programming build requirements exceed team abilities & Systems Team capacity to support. Analysts may be required to build mockups, user stories, functional requirements defining, and structure user acceptance testing
Commentary: It will be a rare candidate who can both crack the whip on tech vendors and write about geopolitical threats. I am assuming “vendors” here could be anything from a software or computer hardware supplier to a local equivalent of UPS.
Translation: Gather punitive intel on suppliers who don’t meet Amazon’s demands. Set up data bots and make pretty charts that executives can understand. Do design and customer experience work, too.
* Conduct deep dives into specific topics resulting in long-form intelligence assessments for use by other analysts, stakeholders, and operations leadership; Analysts must engage Director-level customers on nuances of individual businesses
* Perform intelligence analysis of groups, actors, and incidents using advanced analytic techniques that transform relevant facts into meaningful insights; Analysts are also expected to develop intelligence collection plans that observe operational security (opsec), collect on intended topics/POIs/groups, adhere to responsible collection techniques, and are relevant to highlighting risk to the business
* Publish standard intelligence products to team standards and create new products to meet customer needs, even when these products are without precedent; All new products must answer key intelligence questions of customers and add to their understanding of the risk landscape
* Analysts will be occasionally responsible for writing whitepapers that set out strategy for executing new programs of support, establishing KPIs of these programs, and create measureable benchmarks for success of program
Commentary: Opsec is “a process by which organizations assess and protect public data about themselves that could, if properly analyzed and grouped with other data by a clever adversary, reveal a bigger picture that ought to stay hidden.” Apparently.
Translation: Write up intelligence on demand. Gather insights about others from legal data collection; observe what insights others might have about Amazon. Invent new things to be paranoid about and write papers about them.
* Liaise and coordinate with Global Security Operations Center leaders as necessary, provide special support to the field, and alert GSOC/Ops stakeholders to details related to dynamic incidents
* Liaise and consult with business unit leaders to understand their problem sets, requirements, and develop intelligence products that help contextualize risk specific to their operations
* Create and deploy bespoke risk methodologies tailored to specific business units and their operational profile
* Apply various intelligence techniques and methods, including (but not limited to) open-source research, imagery and FMV analysis, link analysis, data visualization, and use of GIS platforms
* Navigate business ambiguities to create intelligence products without precedent or for customers without an existing relationship with the team
* Learn and understand a broad range of Amazon data resources, engage with data owners, and exploit these datasets for new insights relevant to business leaders
Commentary: Liase? Special support? Dynamic incidents? And “navigate business opportunities?” Who talks like this?
Translation: Work with and send alerts to global security staff. Work with business unit leaders and score their risks. Use tools that scan text, images, and video. Invent new ways to generate insight for people you never met before. Exploit all the data at Amazon.
· Experience with analytics and/or project management processes and/or data aggregation software.
· Exposure to and/or experience with some level of analytical methodology and techniques.
· Experience working with global risk intelligence, incident response, large data analytics software.
· Demonstrated strong critical thinking and writing skills with abilities to communicate complex ideas and analysis in a brief, accurate, and customer obsessed way. Writing sample is required.
· Experience with briefing large audiences of various backgrounds and/or crisis response teams.
· Experience with customer facing service and providing excellent and patient assistance while under tight deadlines.
· Experienced critical thinking practitioner able to justify decisions with supporting analytical standards and methodologies.
Translation: Analyze, think, write, and talk.
· Previous experience in Intelligence analysis and or watch officer skill set in the intelligence community, the military, law enforcement, or a related global security role in the private sector.
· Formal education in the following disciplines: Political Science, Criminal Justice, Fire Science, Public Administration, Security Studies, Strategic Intelligence, International Affairs, International Business, Information Security, Journalism, or Emergency Management.
· Fluency (written and spoken) of a second language such as Hindi, Tagalog, Spanish, Arabic, French, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese or Brazilian Portuguese highly desired.
· Experience with or educational exposure to computer science skills and a strong technical tools acumen to include but not limited to coding, programing, design, cyber forensics, cyber security, open source research, etc.
· Exposure and experience with different cultures and country norms.
Translation: You worked in the CIA, the DIA, or the NSA
Analysts in demand
If you can use a variety of tools to do Jack Ryan-type shit (except the part about going out into the field and shooting people), there’s gonna be demand for your talents.
If you don’t mind protecting the assets of a $1.8 trillion company from every imaginable threat, including its own bad judgment and legitimately organized unions, then this is the job for you.
While this opening is no longer posted on Amazon’s site, I’m sure they’ll be happy to find a place for you.
2 responses to “Would you join Amazon’s internal CIA? Must be adept at doubletalk and bullshit”
Funny enough, I live near enough to the job’s location that I could apply.
I see red flags everywhere. This job seems like the classic “Why didn’t you know this?” type of nightmare. When the shit hits the fan, someone at Amazon would say as much.
I agree: Josh. Far too broad and borderline unethical.
An excellent analysis as usual. My reading between the lines here: there’s a team of these folks (maybe big), they already do all of this stuff, and are looking to expand. Probably an applicant would be expert in some if not many of these areas and would be assigned appropriately to a sub-team. Surely most other big companies of at least moderate technical acumen have similar roles, perhaps more discreetly advertised.