Maï-Linh Camus has the perfect profile. Experts in the world of intelligence quickly detected her potential and offered her the opportunity to join the very closed circle of intelligence officers at the Ministry of the Armed Forces.
Coming from a military family, she had chosen to pursue a career as a lawyer in business law before realizing that she wanted to serve her country and its interests in the field. Determined to change the world, she made a commitment and gave five years of her life to the institution, which would give her much more.
Like a divorce between two people who love each other, she and the army; being the one who does not want to become « the next-door office » one day, she chooses to pursue her professional life in entrepreneurship and puts her skills in intelligence and law at the service of companies, while devoting an unfailing recognition to the world of the Armed Forces.
Interview with Maï-Linh CAMUS, former intelligence officer in the French Land Forces, president of the business intelligence firm Prisme intelligence.
Interview by Mélanie Bénard-crozat
To commit, to serve.
December 2017. Date of her enlistment. « I had a position in the private sector that corresponded to my academic background and the career plan I had built for myself. It was a comfortable situation, but one that, I had to admit, did not satisfy me. At that time, I wanted to save the world. To get involved. I then pushed open the door of a recruitment center. Applications to be a legal reservist had just been closed. I was offered a position as a contract officer specializing in law/ HR. I didn’t think about it, I signed. And I resigned. »
It was during her training at the Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan schools that her military entourage told her about intelligence. « I had never heard of this field. I fulfilled the requirements, I was told. I was hooked and gave 100%. I read countless books on the subject. I went abroad to learn Russian… Speaking a rare language was an added bonus to integrate the services. I ticked all the boxes to give myself every chance to be part of this universe. And I finally managed to join the ranks of a special unit. I then took a position of command, a first for the institution and for me a big leap. Fortunately, the kindness and support of my superiors guided me in taking up my duties and in carrying out the operations. Their support and high standards were essential pillars of my success. »
Fear, Courage, and Humility
Missions with very high geopolitical stakes came one after another. « I can’t say anything today, no more than yesterday or tomorrow, about the missions of this unit. But all of them have shaped my personality, taught me a lot about human functioning, about the underside of the cards of geopolitics or the power game that takes place between powers.
I discovered the feeling of fear. I think this is essential to the exercise of such a profession. The day you are no longer afraid, you fall into recklessness and risk-taking, which can be excessive. It can lead to your downfall as well as that of your brothers in arms.
Consequently, I also learned a lot about stress management, self-control and emotional control, courage and boldness.
I experienced a field that was unknown to me: knowing how to listen and knowing how to keep silent. Learn from the weakest, who will be stronger than you are tomorrow. In short, humility. I’ve always prepared myself to be the best and to become the best in everything I do. But life had in fact not prepared me to never leave anyone behind. Within the Army, the group, the collective is essential. This dimension has transformed me personally. »
Motherhood increases strength tenfold
« Combining operational mission and motherhood is an issue that comes into the lives of almost all women. I learned this while I was on a mission. And this life that was beginning in me gave me courage and strength that I didn’t know I had. Human beings are endowed with deep resources that are underestimated or misunderstood. I find that fascinating. »
A condition of women that is not always obvious in a man’s world where the rate of feminization remains low, although it is growing. « This is one of the difficulties I had to overcome: young, with no experience in the field, how did I get there? Obviously, these were questions that arose. The answers chosen as truth by those I call « the next-door office » were easy enough to imagine. I then had 3 options: revolt, let it happen, or try to understand. I opted for the third one and by trying to understand the environment, the missions, the professional past, but also simply life and the pitfalls… of these people, I understood that it was not personally directed at me. That there may have been a certain reason, legitimate in their eyes, to be disgruntled, embittered, or disillusioned … Life is sometimes neither gentle, nor fair. I have proven my authenticity through my work, my involvement, my morality, and my commitment. I belonged.
What can be hurtful and exhausting, I turned into strength. »
Towards a new adventure
The woman who did not see herself in the general staff then reached the end of her first contract and chose to discover new professional adventures. « The rest of my career, like any officer who rises through the ranks, led me to the staff offices. I didn’t want to be ersatz. I didn’t want to get cynical. So, I chose to leave this institution, as a divorce between two people who love each other. I use every day what I learned there. »
She chose the path of entrepreneurship. « I wanted to try a new adventure, I also wanted freedom. I created my business intelligence firm, Prisme Intelligence, where I guide managers in the search for information, with an essential ethical will.
Just as in the army, I wanted to build reliable, discreet, and loyal teams by surrounding myself with the best. I work with exceptional men and women whose talent always impresses me. Our missions may consist of searching for information before setting up in a new country, penetrating a market, or during a merger and acquisition.
The manager must master the environment in which he operates: the situation of the countries in which he is or wishes to set up, master the elements concerning a potential investor, shareholder, or partner, etc. We provide managers with everything they need to know; the sustainability and performance of their company is at stake. »
Intelligence and Sovereignty
Business intelligence is a tool in the service of sovereignty. « Being involved in business intelligence is about having a competitive advantage. To establish and keep our sovereignty, we will need more competitive French companies with which we will be able to achieve this. Thanks to business intelligence, we have supported companies and ensured that they do not fly under a foreign flag. It’s not emphasized, and for good reason, but it’s a powerful tool. This situation should raise questions, particularly on the issue of financing and the role of investment funds in ensuring that French companies do not turn abroad with the risks that this entails. »
Dare and act
Ladies, go for it, dare, surpass yourself!
Don’t put up barriers, open up to the world, and refuse the easy way. Never become the « next door office, » but expose yourself by going beyond your own limits. It’s a wonderful gift you can give to yourself.
Cultivating resilience and combativeness will be vital forces for facing the future and the threats we face. It is up to us and the younger generation to anticipate and act so that we will not suffer.