Mike Burgess (Website; Twitter) joins Andrew (Twitter; LinkedIn) to discuss his agency and the enduring strength of Australia’s alliances. ASIO is the second intelligence agency he has directed.
What You’ll Learn
The Australian idea of “mateship” in the intelligence context
The Australian intelligence landscape
The United States as its most important strategic alliance
The enduring value and historical uniqueness of the FIVE EYES alliance
How Man. Utd. might help us understand leadership
The frustrations of watching spy fiction on TV as a practitioner
And much, much more…
The top job: what is it like? what are the joys and pains of leadership? This is not like leading a business, though, or a soccer team, this is protecting the country and its citizens from terrorism, espionage, sabotage, and external interference. Such is the charge of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO).
To address these questions, Andrew sat down with Mike Burgess, who was formerly the Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), comparable to GCHQ and the NSA – an agency would serve in for over 20 years. They also discussed the Australian intelligence landscape and its most important alliances, such as the U.S. and FIVE EYES and some of its important regional relationships.
Mike and Andrew hit it off, especially when discussing Alex Ferguson and how soccer can help us understand management and leadership. Ferguson won more titles in soccer than any other manager, at 49, and he is generally considered the GOAT or a strong contender. Of course, trophies are extremely important, but they do not capture everything. If you are looking for an example of transformational change of an entire organization and its subsequent culture, HBS could do a lot worse than draft a case study on the legendary leadership of Liverpool F.C. by Bill Shankly. He made people believe.
Quote of the Week
Talking about FIVE EYES, that's one of those foundational partnerships in our relationships…It's unique because…it was born through WWII. It's an interesting phenomenon because it started its life as a signals intelligence relationship…at its core, it's an intelligence relationship that really has made a difference to each of those five nations’ respective national security…And we do trust each other, and we share our most intimate secrets.
“Keeping Secrets/Disclosing Secrets” – with Spy Chief turned DG of Australia’s National Archives David Fricker (2022)
“Desperately, Madly in Love” – Brett Peppler and the Australian IC (2021)
Australian Intelligence Community, Wikipedia [webpage]
Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (ASIO) [Website]
Why I Spy, M. Burgess, YouTube (n.d.) [60 second video]
Intelligence Professionals FAQ, ASIO, YouTube (n.d.) [2:32 minute video]
Spy: Espionage in Australia (NAA)
Spies & Sparrows: ASIO & the Cold War, P. Deery (2022)
Between Five Eyes, A. Wells (2020)
Intelligence & the Function of Government, D. Baldino & E. Crawley (2018)
The Official History of ASIO – 3 Volumes, D. Horner, J. Blaxland, R. Crawley (2014/2015/2016)
Intelligence Oversight: A Comparison of the FIVE EYES Nations, C. Baker et.al., Parliament of Australia (2017)
Director-General’s Annual Threat Assessment (2022)
Foreign Espionage: An Australian Perspective, ASIS DG (2022)
ASIO Internal Message on Vietnam War (1970)
Surveillance of the Aarons, Communist Party Australia (1966)
Counterespionage Film, ASIO (1963)
Citizenship for former Soviet Spies, Petrovs (1956)
Sydney vs. Melbourne: The Real Canberra Story
If you’ve ever wondered why Canberra is the capital…