interviews

CIB analyst joins elite intelligence program at University of Cambridge

ISI CambridgeIn the summer of 2019, Joseph Cain, longtime CIB executive and head of the organization’s Latin America Desk, was accepted in the Cambridge Security Initiative’s International Security and Intelligence (ISI) program. This elite program takes place at the University of Cambridge in England and features the participation of top officials from the CIA, MI6, NSA, and other Western intelligence agencies. Last summer’s ISI featured talks by Chris Inglis, former deputy director of NSA, and Sir Richard Dearlove, former director of MI6.

We spoke to Joseph and asked him a few questions about his month-long stay at Cambridge and the role that his CIB work at CCU had in equipping him to respond to the challenges of that elite program.

What was it like participating in the program?

A: Participating in the Cambridge Security Initiative’s International Security and Intelligence program was an eye-opening experience that allowed me to not only meet top-level experts in the field of intelligence but to also be mentored by them. Additionally, I had the opportunity to interact with brilliant students and practitioners from all around the world. Besides the excellent course material, I also got to experience the qualities of Cambridge. The town and university are truly centers of knowledge and dedication to the students and professors who attend school and work there.

Joseph Cain at Cambridge University

Joseph Cain at Cambridge University

What did you get out of the experience at Cambridge?

A: The Cambridge experience gave me a new way of thinking and a sense of rigor. Everyone who participated was there for a reason. They had their fun, but everyone was there to learn and make themselves better; you had to bring your A-game every day. I also had to get used to working in groups while I was there. Typically in America we grow up in a culture very much built upon competition with our peers; but while there we really tried to solve problems and scenarios in groups. The added difficulty, or in some cases a benefit, was the fact that we were all from such diverse backgrounds and this provided me with a lot of insight into some complex issues that we would discuss and work on.

What was for you the most memorable moment of your experience at Cambridge?

A: By far and away the most memorable moments from my summer experience in Cambridge were the formal dinners the program held at Magdalene College and King’s College at Cambridge. These were times when my fellow classmates and I could relax with the faculty and reflect on what we learned, have great food, and enjoy a night out getting to know one another. It was amazing to be having dinner with former heads of MI6, GCHQ, and other amazing top-level experts in the field — it really was something I will not forget.

How did the INTEL program at CCU prepare you for your experience at Cambridge?

A: Coastal’s Intelligence and National Security program greatly prepared me for this experience. The knowledge I acquired from classes here at Coastal on how to properly research and analyze complex issues was vital when writing my research paper for the program. Also, the course material relevant to the history of intelligence was really beneficial when understanding case studies and participating in groups. The CIB helped me as well when organizing briefs that my group would have to give to larger seminar groups. Overall, I think Coastal can continue to send students to ISI and have a mutually beneficial relationship with this prestigious program.