Why I Spy

There is no ASIO ‘type’—people of all types can, and do, work at ASIO. Our success is underpinned by the differing skills, experiences, and perspectives of our people. They come from a variety of backgrounds, applying their creativity and intelligence to keep Australians safe.

In ‘Why I Spy’, ASIO officers tell their real stories about joining the organisation, and where a career with us has taken them.

Is ASIO the next chapter in your story?

Female Intelligence Officer
Director-General of Security Mike Burgess

Female intelligence officer

My early life was like a Cold War spy thriller.

I grew up overseas under communist rule. My family escaped and we ended up in Australia. We were safe but it wasn’t easy.

My parents didn’t speak any English and nor did I when I started school. My teacher made me change my name to make it easier for others.

I wanted to be a writer but chose physiotherapy as a more ‘sensible’ career path. At one time I would never have applied for a job in ASIO. Security services do not have a great reputation in communist countries!

But the more I thought about it, the more I figured my background and experiences made me a good fit. Decades later, I’m still here.

I’ve been an intelligence officer stopping terrorists, a surveillance officer, and a security assessor. I’ve worked overseas and managed human sources to produce intelligence for world leaders.

There’s nothing boring about what ASIO does. I’m immensely proud of our impact.

That’s Why I Spy.

Director-General of Security Mike Burgess

I’m an unconventional spy.

My path to ASIO started at Underdale High School in Adelaide, when I first played with the school’s only computer, an Apple 2. It unleashed my inner geek and I wanted to become an electronics engineer.

I was the first person in my family to go to university. My dad was a storeman and my mum was a cleaner, so I spent a year unpacking boxes and stacking bookshelves to save money.

After I graduated, I saw a mysterious job ad in a newspaper. When I rang for more information, I got greeted with ‘hello’, I said ‘hello’, and the response was ‘hello…’

It turned out to be my entry into the secretive world of intelligence. The real secret to a great career is doing something you love, something that matters.

At ASIO, I protect Australia and Australians from threats to their security. That’s the mission. I get to make a difference.

That’s Why I Spy.