A senior officer from the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) has offered an unprecedented glimpse into what a career inside ASIS looks like.

A recent podcast, hosted by Carl Chang, ONI’s Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Champion, and Caroline van Heuzen, Deputy Head of the ANU National Security College, explored diversity and CALD representation through the eyes of a first-generation Australian who is now ASIS’ Chief Technology Officer.

To protect his identity, the ANU did not use the ASIS officer’s real name, or even his voice, but the story is his.

The officer, known as Raj, explained what motivated him to pursue a career at ASIS, as he explored both the challenges and opportunities for people of CALD backgrounds, and what contribution they can make to protecting Australia and its interests.

 “This is the first time an ASIS officer who is not ‘publicly avowed’ has given a public interview, and as a CALD background employee, it actually means a lot,” said Raj.

“ASIS is exposed to a lot of different cultures and ethnicities, so that recognition and the value of diversity is already there to some extent.”

Raj came to Australia from Sri Lanka when he was 19 years old, studying ICT at a leading university in Sydney. His professional journey began in the private sector, where he garnered experience and expertise, which he now leverages in his current role.

“A big part of my role is to think about the opportunities and threats of different and emerging technologies, especially for ASIS’ business, and then come up with ways to minimise these threats and exploit the opportunities on behalf of ASIS,” said Raj.

Raj took the opportunity to encourage migrants to break down perceived and existing barriers within themselves, to be open to the opportunity of working in an intelligence organisation, like ASIS.

“The first thing is you have to give it a go, and if you do, you can have a fulfilling career and grow within the organisation towards senior leadership,” said Raj.

“Because, take me for example, when I originally left Sri Lanka for Australia I never dreamed that, you know, I’d be working as the Chief Technology Officer for Australia’s premier secret intelligence organisation.”

ASIS collects and distributes secret intelligence about the capabilities, intentions and activities of individuals or organisations outside Australia. It does so to protect Australia and further Australian interests.

“There are many pathways within ASIS. There’s a STEM pathway, there’s a particular intelligence officer pathway. Basically, I think anyone who has, you know, interest in contributing to Australian society has a pathway within ASIS,” Raj explained.

ASIS is one of 10 agencies that make up the National Intelligence Community (NIC), led by ONI.

This podcast was the fourth episode in a series focusing on cultural and linguistic diversity in the NIC.  

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15 September 2023

  • News Article
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