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Member Spotlight: Rima Hajjaj

Who are the FBI AIA? We're a diverse and passionate group of intel professionals who've taken our experiences and skills from the FBI to places outside the government. Get to know us a little better! This month, meet Rima Hajjaj:

How long were you in the FBI and what did you do?

I was in the FBI for about 14 years. I started in Miami working counterterrorism (CT), focused mainly on Sunni extremism. From there, I went on a 2 week temporary assignment (TDY) to headquarters to work the Guantanamo Bay investigations that ended up being 4 years! I went to Guantanamo, interviewed detainees, and was then assigned to the Guantanamo Branch Task Force at NCTC. I transferred home to Boston where I continued to focus on CT, eventually becoming the CT intel supervisor. I switched to complex financial crimes, where I spent my last years at the Bureau. I was also the Crisis Intel Coordinator- special events, helping to put command posts together.

Where are you now, and what are you up to?

I left the Bureau in October 2021 and took a position with PwC on the geopolitical risk team, and I’m now on the Transformation team, helping clients maximize growth in a cost effective manner. We put together finished intel products for an internal audience - decision makers who counsel clients on global expansion opportunities. We focus on emerging trends, including economic opportunities and risks, and competitive intelligence.

How would you say your FBI skills have translated for you?

As I was looking for my next opportunity, I didn’t think what I was doing in the FBI, because it was so specific, would translate to another position. Initially, I had to identify and translate the terminology used in the business world. Once I figured that part out, it was really the mechanics, the analytical tradecraft; a lot of that is applicable. You look at information, you synthesize it, and you provide the critical context (that’s really where the value comes in) to the readers, the stakeholders, to our clients. I help them understand the landscape they’re operating in, which is very dynamic, and give them an analysis of alternatives to look for other opportunities they may not have thought of themselves. I’ve found a lot of similarities: the tradecraft, the production, coming up with the BLUF at the beginning. That’s something that’s also similar- understanding your audience is very busy and only has a short time to spend on your production.

That’s cool! What do you enjoy most about your new role?

I’ve gotten to work with people from all over the world- my colleagues in India, I’ve gotten to learn their culture and the way they work. Also getting to experience just what business is, and how important it is to the economy and the day-to-day. I don’t think I appreciated that as much before. While I’m not working CT, what we do is really important: with the economy, with inflation, I think it’s really important to have people armed with the knowledge they need to make effective decisions that ultimately affect consumers and private citizens. I enjoy the different people I interact with - we have everybody from economists to academics to former CEOs of major companies - everybody brings something unique to the table.

The other piece I really enjoy is I’m completely remote: it’s been such a huge blessing, getting real work-life balance, experiencing what that really means. Being home, I feel I tend to work a lot more hours than I did when I was in an office because I don’t have a commute and I’m not dealing with everyday distractions.

This has been great! Always our last question- what things do you do in your free time?

One of my biggest hobbies is gardening: I’m a big perennials fan! I’ve had a lot of success finding cool, interesting plants; I enjoy spending time outside, getting fresh air - and it’s something I can do on my breaks, which is great. I recently got a puppy, and my two german shepherds keep me quite busy. My other big hobby (little bit of a nerd alert!) - I’m a gamer and a very avid World of Warcraft player! In my spare time, once work is done, I decompress by playing some World of Warcraft and gaming, and that sort of marks the official end of my day.

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