I spy with Andrew Kirsch

Sep 7, 2021

Plenty of people make career changes. But there are few folks whose professional trajectory includes a decade-long stint as a spy. Security consultant Andrew Kirsch was a young financial analyst working for a big bank in the UK when he had a close encounter with a terrorist attack. The experience launched him along an entirely new path, inspiring him to apply to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, where he moved up the ranks to become a covert special-ops lead.

Now, Andrew is lifting the lid on what life as an intelligence officer is really like, in his humorous, lighthearted, and eye-opening memoir, I Was Never Here (Spring 2022). We are thrilled to be part of the publishing journey of his incredible story. Read on to learn more about Andrew, his amazing life experiences, and his unique perspective.

Which three words best describe you?
Amiable, easy-going, and appreciative. (I would say “quick-witted,” but it took me a while to come up with this answer, so I ruled it out!)

What is your book about?
I Was Never Here is a lighthearted look at what it’s really like to be a Canadian spy.

What is the most common misconception people have about your line of work?
That we don’t have spies in Canada, or that the spies we have are mean, reckless or unethical.

Who is your favorite author?
Growing up I read a lot of Will Ferguson—he made learning about Canada fun and interesting. I currently read mostly historical non-fiction. Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower was excellent, and I’ll read anything Stewart Bell writes on Canada and national security.

What is your personal motto?
“Be a man of character,”  To me, this means living a life consistent with my values. I grew up with values instilled by my mother, who wrote four words on our family calendar each month: Helpful, Harmonious, Grateful, and Responsible. These have stayed pretty consistent as an adult. The only ones I may add are Service and Respect.

Where do you find inspiration?
I believe that inspiration is everywhere.

I find it in trying to be a good role model for my kids, and in being the best person I can be to honor my parents and everyone who helped me along the way. I also find it in seeing the small acts of kindness that people do when they don’t think anyone is watching, and in seeing people put themselves out there and take real risks for something they believe in.

If your life were a movie, what would the title be, and who would play you? 

I think the title would have to reflect the fact I’ve had a few different careers and ventures, and that I haven’t been afraid to take some risks (spying and writing a book about spying, included): Taking My Shots. And I could see myself being played by an early Office days John Krasinski.