Wednesday, April 22, 2009

CI Pro Interview with Emily C. Rushing

Name: Emily C. Rushing
Title: Competitive Intelligence Specialist
Haynes and Boone, LLP
Since: September 2008
Profiles: You can find Emily at
LinkedIn and Twitter.

Q: What is your job description at Haynes and Boone?

A: My role is primarily focused on developing and reporting strategic business and competitive intelligence. I support the Business Development and Marketing Departments, the CMO, the firm’s attorneys, and, most importantly, firm management.

Q: Who are your typical CI clients at Haynes and Boone?

A: My clients range from associates to the Managing Partner to marketing staff. My primary clients are the Business Development Managers who coordinate with me on behalf of their respective practice groups.

Q: What are three common KITs you’re often asked to address?

A: Topics for our intelligence frequently include: 1) profiling competitors’ practice areas and clients, 2) identifying business development opportunities for the firm among existing clients and developing strategic targeting programs, and 3) developing intelligence in preparation for business development meetings with existing or potential clients.

Q: How is the intelligence function organized at your firm? To whom do you report?

A: I am the firm’s only CI professional. I am directly supervised by the Director of Business Development, indirectly supervised by the CMO, and my role is situated within the Marketing department.

Q: What experience or training prepared you most for the CI work you do now at Haynes and Boone?

A: My years as a research specialist with
King & Spalding were good training for the CI work I do for my current firm. I also developed technical skills with various softwares during my time working as a consultant and freelance technical librarian.

Q: What formal CI training have you had?

A: Very little CI-specific training. I studied social sciences and statistics in college and went on to achieve a Juris Doctorate and Master’s of Library and Information Sciences. These are highly analytical areas of study, and I feel that the training I received in those programs were wonderful preparation for my career in CI.

Q: Where do you go for ongoing CI training and mentoring?

A: Since accepting this position, I have attended webinars and tried to expose myself to the basic literature. I also have been mentored by colleagues via professional organizations like
SCIP and SLA’s CI division, for which I am very grateful. From librarian to CI professional isn’t as jarring a transition as lawyer to librarian, but has required some adaptation.

Q: What specific adaptations have you found necessary in your transition from librarian to CI professional?

A: The most helpful adaptation I have made has been to change my patron/client focus from transaction-oriented (retrieve article, locate book on shelf, instruct on research techniques, build bibliography, perform catalog search) to results-oriented (find and understand the client, prepare for the meeting, get the business, maximize the relationship). My new, CI perspective looks less at the question "What is the patron asking me to give them?" or even "What do we need to know?" than it looks to the question "What should we do and how can intelligence help us make a better decision?" Once I really understood my present role in terms of the latter phrase, rather than either of the first two phrases, CI made sense to me and I was able to more smoothly transition from a research practice to an intelligence practice.

Q: What do law firms most often misunderstand about CI? What should they know about CI that you’re afraid is often misunderstood?

A: There is some misunderstanding about the process of developing KITs and CI. It is a two-way street, and a successful CI program requires that management and decision-makers share information with the CI professional. For CI to simply generate a report on a set of data or research into a particular topic is not a successful use of CI. CI must be actionable and must help inform management’s decisions, but that requires that management perceive CI as an integral part of the decision-making process.

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