James A. 'Spider' Marks

(Courtesy Of James Marks - Courtesy Of James Marks)
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Position: Managing partner in the D.C. office of Ergo, a global primary research and consulting firm.

Career highlights: President and chief executive, Global Linguist Solutions; commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence Center, Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; senior intelligence officer in Joint Task Force Los Angeles during the L.A. riots, in the Balkans, in Korea and in Iraq; infantry platoon leader and infantry company command, 101st Airborne Division.

Age: 56.

Education: BS in engineering, U.S. Military Academy at West Point; MA in international affairs, University of Virginia; MS in theater operations, School of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Personal: Three daughters; lives in Oakton with wife Marty.

How did you get to where you are?

After West Point, I knew I would have, as a minimum, five years in the Army. I got to my first unit and served as an intelligence officer supporting tactical units. I realized how much I enjoyed being a soldier.

Intelligence officers must facilitate solid decisions about the application of force. You have to paint the picture so people are empowered to make good decisions. It's called decision advantage. If there's someone who wants to buy shoes, as an intelligence officer, you would provide them with information such as location of sales, the time the doors open, the type of shoes available -- colors, sizes, styles.

I later served in the 7th infantry at Fort Ord, Calif., as a senior intelligence officer. During that period, I deployed to Los Angeles as part of the Joint Task Force. We were the military formation responsible for restoring peace and order following the Rodney King trial and riots, working with local authorities such as the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Justice Department and local governments.

You blink your eye and find out that you've moved up through the ranks simply by staying focused on the immediate task at hand while keeping aligned with your professional goals. At the height of my career, I served as a senior intelligence officer in multiple theaters of operation, such as the Balkans, Korea and Iraq.

In 2004, I retired from the Army; I became the president and chief executive at Global Linguist Solutions, which directly supported military reconstruction operations in Iraq. I supervised a large company (about 9,000 personnel) to ensure their personal and professional growth while meeting budgetary requirements and ensuring delivery of goods and services.

As managing partner of Ergo's Washington office, my responsibilities are to establish, grow and solidify our business process, to penetrate government markets and to acquire and develop young talent.

In essence, Ergo has an open-source network of experts in broad geographies and business sectors, which supplies companies, agencies and federal organizations with unique insights and information about emerging markets. That's not unlike intelligence work that helps provide decision advantage to deployed forces worldwide. This is my wheelhouse; it is what I did in my military career. The skills required in Ergo are the same set of skills I used in the military -- understanding the target (the client), leadership, direction and energy.

-- Charity Brown

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