W  I  L  L      B  E  A  U  C  H  E  M  I  N
About himself

 

My industry experience is in financial services, manufacturing, food, entertainment, B2B services, and B2G services.  Here is a synopsis of my career and interests.

My first career:  Intelligence Analyst


My mother and sister pinning on my 
lieutenant's bars at my commissioning, 1987.

I started my working life with the intention of making a career as a Military Intelligence officer in the Army.  However, when the Cold War ended, I decided to leave active duty to pursue a career as an intelligence analyst in government.  

Through the Army Reserve I got temporarily assigned to the intelligence unit of the Drug Enforcement Administration field office in Philadelphia.  From there I became a contracted intelligence analyst at a joint federal-state task force in New Jersey.   Despite earning awards for my work, I could not find a full-time employee position in intelligence.  No federal, state, or local organization was hiring.  This situation continued for years.

I was to discover that federal job postings for intelligence analysts, which were very rare, were being reserved for displaced federal civil service employees.  There were a lot of them in the 1990s as government agencies down-sized after the Cold War.  This situation, as it turned out, was to continue until the 9/11 attacks.  I therefore decided to move into the business world and be a competitive intelligence analyst.

Competitive Intelligence Analyst

In the mid 1990s, competitive intelligence was still not being practiced as a discipline in most Fortune 500 companies.  I therefore decided to get my foot in the door at a Fortune 500 company and simply create the opportunity.  Through a contracting opportunity, I was hired by Nabisco Refrigerated Foods Company as an administrative assistant, of all things.  In less than a year I had so impressed senior management with my organizational skills that I was promoted and asked to fix the process of change management in the Quality Department.  I tell this story on my "Process Improvement" page.  Having reduced the time needed to manage the process by 66%, I had a lot of time on my hands.  This coincided with a corporate-level push to create competitive intelligence units in each division.  For that I had both the qualifications and the time --- so I got my opportunity.  On my "Research & Analysis" page you can see some of my no-longer-sensitive work from this and other competitive intelligence positions.  

I need to make clear:  competitive intelligence is not espionage, which is illegal and unethical.  It is simply the collection of publicly-available information to create a picture of current and future marketplace activity and opportunity.  The goal is to produce actionable intelligence for decision-makers and people in the field to give my client the advantage.  "Competitive Intelligence" is an umbrella term that covers many disciplines, such as competitor monitoring, SWOT analysis,  and geographic marketing, to name just a few disciplines.  

If you have read about competitive intelligence, you know there is always a debate over what constitutes "competitive intelligence" versus "competitor" or "market" intelligence.  To me, actionable intelligence for a competitive advantage is the definition of "competitive intelligence" and must therefore cut across disciplines.  I describe some examples of this on my "Research & Analysis" page.

MS Office/VBA Developer

I loved being a competitive intelligence analyst --- but after nine years and three different positions I learned that the first people laid-off in any economic downturn are competitive intelligence analysts.  I needed to make a career adjustment.

I decided to transition to being more of a computer programmer and database administrator.  This was not hard because MS Access and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programming were a large part of my tool kit for competitive intelligence.  Although most of my work over the past 10+ years has been mostly database and VBA development, there have been frequent opportunities for me to combine that with competitive intelligence projects.  As you might imagine, my combination of skills are rare if not unique.

While MS SQL Server and Oracle are far better back-end repositories of data than MS Access, Access provides a versatile and quick-to-deploy front-end.  When combined with other MS Office applications, a powerful and still user-friendly application can be created with all the benefits of a robust SQL Server or Oracle back-end.   Building such applications is what I excel at.  

Data Wrangler

As a competitive intelligence analyst, I also gained a lot of experience automating the extraction, formatting, de-duping, and combining of large amounts of complex data.  The nature of that led me to call myself a "data wrangler."

To work with large amounts of data safely and accurately, programming skills are needed.  I use my VBA and SQL skills to do that --- and always back-up, back-up, back-up.  See my "Data Wrangling" page for examples of my more complex projects.

My most challenging data wrangling is when I web scrape information for competitive intelligence purposes:  the data was never intended to be extracted for use in a database, so I must come up with a programmatic way of determining where one piece of data (datum) ends and another begins.

I might be rare, but I enjoy data wrangling, probably because I enjoy puzzles.  

Hobbies:  Astronomy

Mainly to explain why I chose the Sun as my logo, I'll tell you my primary hobby is astronomy with a particular interest in our own star.  I own a Coronado PST solar telescope and am a daily visitor to NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory web site for its near-real-time images of the Sun, like the one shown left.

 

 

Following news from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), especially about the International Space Station (ISS), is another past time of mine, as is studying the history of the US and Russian space programs.  You can also count on me being at any space-related exhibit or Omni Theater movie at the Minnesota Science Museum.

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For night-time observation, I have an Oberwerk 45-degree 100mm binocular telescope.  In addition to the power of a small telescope, it gives a 3-D actual (non-reversed) view that a regular telescope cannot.  In 3-D, star clusters like the Pleiades, bottom left, are stunning, as are mountain ranges on the Moon.

My best nighttime viewing is from the dark skies of many of Minnesota's state parks.  However, I'm far more often viewing the quarter of the night sky I can see from my patio.  Even with light pollution, I can view star clusters 10,000 light years away. 

TOP:  Photo of the Sun, 2/7/2015 20:24 UT, hydrogen-alpha filter.  Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.  CENTER:  Nighttime view of the Strait of Gibraltar from International Space Station, 9/20/2016.  Courtesy of NASA.  BOTTOM:  Hubble photo of the Pleiades (undated) courtesy of NASA, ESA, AURA/Caltech, and Palomar Observatory.
Website designed and created by Will Beauchemin.  Graphics 2013 Iconshock by Unusual Minds and 2002 Riverdeep Interactive Learning Ltd and its licensors.  Map graphics 1988-2012 Microsoft Corporation and/or its suppliers.  Except as noted, website 2015 Will Beauchemin.