Colt McShane is an agent with the CIA.
"As one of the CIA's elite non-official cover operatives, Colt McShane had been ushered away from any official US government business as soon as he finished his training at The Farm a decade earlier. Since then, Colt had been operating almost completely alone. Reporting only to his CIA handler, Ed Wilcox, now the agency's station chief in Vancouver.
"Everyone else who had graduated from Colt's CIA training class had gone on to become operations officers in the Clandestine Service. These men and women lived and worked in US embassies and consulates overseas. They held official government covers like Agricultural Advisor or Economic Attaché. The blander the better. If they got caught spying, countries like Russia or China would usually expel them back to the United States, who would repay the favor by expelling a proportionate number of "diplomats." The rules of the game were clear, and in a way, gentlemanly.
"But non-official cover operatives like Colt had no such protections. If he was identified by a foreign intelligence service, there were no rules. So it was crucially important he not get caught. His cover had to be airtight, and he had spent years working in the world of corporate finance, carefully cultivating a cover legend with minimal agency contact, choosing the time, location, and manner of his agent debriefs with painstaking attention to detail."
We meet McShane when he is both in his cover working for a major financial investment bank handling a new fundraising round for the latest tech giant and darling of the sector. In this capacity, he works out of New York City but has a ready-made, almost uncontestable excuse to fly off to anywhere in the world, all in the name of research or client meeting. Interestingly, his cover job is not just for show; "The work he did for the privately owned investment bank could be grueling. Eighty-hour weeks. Cutthroat competition, both inside and outside the firm."
"The only person at the firm who knew of Colt's attachment to the US government was the company's founder and CEO. After the CIA decided to place Colt on the non-official cover track, he had been sent to business school where he graduated near the top of his class. He then spent six months in a corporate internship, meeting with his handler on weekends to finish his training as an intelligence officer. Only then was he sent to his current job, where he began operational work for the CIA.
"The arrangement allowed the CIA to guide Colt's work portfolio. His work travel often included corporate visits in foreign nations where he would perform financial analyses. Colt was good at his job. The investment bank regularly used Colt's financial analyses to make major investment decisions. Pension funds and college endowment portfolio managers often hired Colt's firm to evaluate companies they wanted to invest in. Colt would tour business headquarters and meet CFOs by day, and then recruit potential agents over drinks at night. His occupation gave the CIA wide access to a variety of foreign corporations and investors."
- Said by McShane, "Never underestimate a human being's ability to screw up technology".