Britain’s MI6 spy agency seeks evolved candidates in first TV recruitment advert

MI6 is keen cast off its macho James Bond image and recruit a more diverse workforce to the secret service. (Reuters)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Britain’s MI6 spy agency seeks evolved candidates in first TV recruitment advert

  • MI6 has reported an upsurge in interest from applicants following intrigue over the Salisbury nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, blamed by Britain on the Kremlin.
  • A senior director of the service said that bringing in a more diverse workforce would help counter the dangers of “group think.”

LONDON: Britain’s MI6 launched its first TV advertising campaign on Thursday as part of a bid to cast off its macho James Bond image and recruit a more diverse workforce to the secret service.
The brief commercial features a shark gliding through the waters of an aquarium in a shot deliberately intended to evoke the spy thriller genre.
“We are intelligence officers but we don’t do what you think. It is not keeping your cool in the shark tank, it is picking up the silent cues that matter,” a voiceover intones.
The camera then cuts to a child who steps back in fear before turning to his mother who sweeps him up in her arms.
“Understanding others. Helping them see things differently. It’s exploring the world beyond your own. And if that sounds familiar it’s because you do it every day.”
It ends: “MI6 — secretly we are just like you.”
The advert is intended to showcase the “soft” skills the service requires from new applicants and will be shown as part of MI6’s drive to recruit 800 new staff by 2021.
“The concept was to play on the Bond image but to explain very clearly that this was not James Bond,” said the agency’s head of recruitment, a mother with 20 years in the service whose name was not disclosed.
“In many respects the people we are recruiting have sets of skills that are common to many people in the population.”
She said they were looking for new intelligence officers who had a “blend of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills” combined with a “strong sense of integrity and creativity.”
Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service — the formal name for MI6 — has reported an upsurge in interest from applicants following intrigue over the Salisbury nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, blamed by Britain on the Kremlin.
However according to the latest official figures of March 2016 only 24 percent of senior staff and 38 percent of non-senior staff were women, while there were no BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) members among the senior ranks and they accounted for just seven percent of the non-senior staff.
A senior director of the service said that bringing in a more diverse workforce would help counter the dangers of “group think.”
“We are looking for people who are brave enough to speak up,” he said.


Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour picks up Crystal Award at Davos 2019

Updated 54 min 23 sec ago
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Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour picks up Crystal Award at Davos 2019

DAVOS, Switzerland: Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia, has received a Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum's 2019 meeting in Davos for her leadership in cultural transformation in the Arab world. Watch a recap of the award ceremony below:

“Wadjda”, Al-Mansour’s feature debut, was the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a female director.

The success of her 2005 documentary “Women Without Shadows” was a breakthrough that was followed by a new wave of Saudi filmmakers and front-page headlines of Saudi Arabia finally opening cinemas in the Kingdom.

She was recently appointed to the Board of the General Authority for Culture to advise on the development of the cultural and arts sectors in Saudi Arabia.

She recently released “Mary Shelly” starring Elle Fanning, and “Nappily Ever After” starring Sanaa Lathan. Al-Mansour is the first artist from the Arabian Gulf region to be invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In her speech after receiving the award, Al-Mansour reflected on the role her father played in her filmmaker dream, paying homage to the films he showed her as a child.

“Those films made me feel part of a bigger world, they made me love the world. They made me who I am,” Al-Mansour said.

"I wanted to have a voice. I wanted to have a passion. I wanted to be happy," she added.

The other winners of the Crystal Awards at this year's Davos meeting are Marin Alsop, for her leadership in championing diversity in music and legendary broadcaster Sir David Attenborough for his leadership in environmental stewardship.

The Crystal Awards honour exceptional artists and cultural leaders whose important contributions are improving the state of the world and who best represent the “spirit of Davos.”