Public service

A natural career choice

J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington D.C.
The J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington D.C.

A public service career was a natural choice for FBI assistant director Gordon Snow. “I grew up in Detroit, in the city, my dad was a police officer there. I think you’re shaped sometimes by the environment you live in. Every parent I knew was a police officer, a fireman, or was working in a career that would be beneficial to society.”

Marine Corps inspired desire to serve

He enlisted in the Marines and later served as an officer, spending 10 years with the Corps. “The military sent me to college” (the University of Michigan, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English). When it was time to do something else, Snow sought a job with a service focus. “I was always very grateful that I had the opportunity in the Marine Corps to do the things that I did to serve the people and the country, and I hoped that I would find a job like that again.”

Interests in business, law

Snow applied to the FBI, but the bureau was in a hiring freeze. He moved back to Detroit and turned his attention to earning advanced degrees in business and law, taking accounting classes to prepare for the CPA exam and enrolling in law school. He was in his first semester there, in 1992, when the job offer came from the FBI.

FBI offered exciting opportunities

He almost didn’t accept, Snow said, thinking that he should complete his law degree instead. One of his teachers, a former assistant U.S. attorney, advised him otherwise, noting the new and exciting technologies being adopted by the bureau. “He was talking about automated fingerprint identification systems and things that are routine to us now.”

Action at home, abroad

Snow signed up. He spent his early years in the Birmingham, Ala. division, tracking fugitives and investigating violent and white-collar crime, bank robberies, drug trafficking, civil rights violations, and public corruption. In the mid-90s, he became a member of the critical incident response group’s hostage rescue team. He participated in rendition missions, conducted terrorism assessments overseas, and served on various support teams after the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen and the embassy bombings in Kenya.

Experience with WMD, counterterrorism

After several years with the counterintelligence division’s Middle East and Detroit units, Snow moved to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., to lead the weapons of mass destruction unit. That assignment was followed by moves to Silicon Valley and Afghanistan, where he served as the FBI’s on-scene commander for the counterterrorism division, before returning to Washington to work in the cyber division. He became the division’s deputy assistant director in 2009 and assistant director last year.

Cyber division requires broad experience

The diversity of his assignments, Snow says, is a plus in his current role. “Cyber encompasses everything. I believe the different experiences I have had in the organization have assisted me immensely in the position I currently hold.”

Next: Most wanted: Cyber investigators in high demand.

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