From my vantage point as the organizer of the Jim Mathews Award and Fellowship for Intelligence Excellence (hereafter, Mathews medal), I have personally gotten to know all the semi-finalists, and eventual winners, of the Mathews medal since we first introduced it in 2012. As one of Aurora WDC’s directors who had developed the award program and a developer of intelligence educational courses and programs in several universities, I was never real certain about how many university students would be interested in applying for this award, what universities they would come from, or what their main interests would be in pursuing an intelligence career? To our surprise, we have received well over 100 applications cumulatively, from students at a dozen different universities in six countries. More than just the numbers, these students were exactly what we’d hoped they be – motivated, insightful, and the kind of leaders we had confidence would capably represent this exciting field for decades to come.

Two universities, one in Canada and the other in the USA, have accounted for the bulk of Mathews medal winners. Mercyhurst University, located in Erie, Pennsylvania, has supplied the most winners. This comes as little surprise since it has one of the most enduring, unique centers of intelligence studies and programs of study for both undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing degrees in intelligence. Mercyhurst’s graduates work for leading employers in both the private and public sector. They have carved out a niche for themselves as having the range of knowledge and skills that numerous employers of intelligence analysts and managers have come to rely upon. The Canadian school that accounts for the second most winners is Algonquin College, located near the country’s capital in Ottawa. Algonquin’s School of Business offers a post-graduate certificate in Marketing Research and Business Intelligence that has produced highly capable students with qualitative and quantitative competencies in understanding how consumers choose, think and behave.

Above is a picture of one of our 2014 Mathews medal winners, Selena Zhang, working with several of her colleagues in Algonquin’s outstanding Marketing Research and Business Intelligence program.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet and get to know these students better through our judging process. Every year, my fellow judges — a group of veteran, globally-located CI professionals representing both academia and industry — and I review the applications. I have been fortunate enough to serve on the interviews of our semi-finalists, and learn more about the students’ courses of study, curricular and extra-curricular experiences, motivations, and of course, their achievements. I have been consistently impressed with what I have heard. Meeting these students in person at our award presentations has only reinforced my view that the future of the Intelligence field will be in good hands with these capable individuals leading the way. Some of them, one day in the future, may be in a similar position to Mr. Mathews, the award’s namesake, and help their employers position themselves to make more enlightened and critical strategic decisions. I know that they, like Mr. Mathews did in his career, will do so with excellence and integrity.

– Dr. Craig S. Fleisher, Chief Learning Officer, Aurora WDC