Don Widener, technical director of ISR analysis and operations, BAE Systems
Widener has been a USGIF member for more than 10 years and played a role in standing up USGIF’s Universal GEOINT Certification Program as both a test taker for one of the first pilot exams as well as a member of the committee that helped develop the final exams. He is also a member of the Foundation’s Tradecraft and Professional Development Committee.
“[Certification] is a great starting point for analysts coming into the intelligence workforce,” he said. “GEOINT professionals can prove they’ve gone through some geospatial training, that they have the background, and that they understand tradecraft standards.”
BAE has prioritized training its staff—one of the largest in the GEOINT world. A number of its employees are already USGIF certified, and BAE offers incentive bonuses to employees that achieve USGIF certification. Additionally, the company has developed in-house, pre-certification training for its workforce.
“We pride ourselves that our professionals are best in class, and the certification proves they live up to those standards,” Widener said.
Chris Powell, CTO, NT Concepts
Powell is co-chair of USGIF’s Emerging Technologies Subcommittee and believes certification creates an important baseline for assessing an individual’s expertise. Certification can help employers know what to look for when seeking professional GEOINT skills to fill a particular role.
“When we interview a data manager and that person [is certified], we can expect that person has a certain level of skills, expertise, maybe years of experience doing that type of work,” Powell said.
NT Concepts encourages its employees to consider USGIF certification. The company also has an initiative called “NTC University,” which trains the NT Concepts workforce for specific projects and leadership.
“[USGIF certification is] definitely something we’d consider adding to the [NTC University] curriculum,” Powell said.
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