Just a couple of weeks ago, Kevin Golen ’08 was in town and decided to pay the History Department a visit to see what was new. Professors Dubrulle and Perrone had the good fortune to speak to Golen and find out what he had been up to lo these many years. One Thing after Another found Golen’s career trajectory so compelling that this blog thought it would share his story.
Q: If we recall correctly, you did not come to Saint Anselm College intending to enter journalism as a field. Why did you go to Saint Anselm College, and what were your original intentions?
A: Although I was from the Philly suburbs, I always enjoyed visiting my father’s side of the family in western Massachusetts. This inspired me to apply to several small, New England colleges where I could continue running cross-country. During my first visit, I had the opportunity to meet Coach Paul Finn, the men’s cross-country team, and several of the monks on campus. Once I returned home, I knew that St. Anselm was the right fit for me. During my freshman year, I changed majors at least two or three times. Initially, I was putting pressure on myself to choose a major that would perfectly align with what I imagined my future job would be after graduation. Thankfully, two of my good friends and fellow history majors, Jimmy Siracusa ’08 and Mike Labrie ’08, helped me to stop worrying if I was going to be an accountant, teacher, or lawyer, and instead focus on choosing a major that I was genuinely interested in. Growing up close to Valley Forge and knowing that my favorite subject in high school was history made that an easy decision.
Q: Portraits Magazine ran a story about you back in 2013 (written by fellow History alum Lauren Davitt ’08) explaining how you ended up at the news desk of Fox News. Could you briefly relate how you obtained an opportunity to work there?
A: I was very fortunate to be paired up with Fox News Channel political analyst Juan Williams. He knew by the end of the New Hampshire primary that something had clicked and that I was seriously interested in opportunities at Fox. After following up with him a few times via email, Juan put me in touch with someone who was looking to hire an overnight assistant position at Fox’s Headquarters in New York City. After two phone interviews, a writing test, and an in-person interview, I accepted an offer and began working the Tuesday after I graduated.
Q: From Fox News, you went to Dataminr and them from Dataminr to Insite. In other words, you moved from journalism to security. Could you connect the dots? In other words, what was it about one job that prepared you for the next?
A: At Fox, I eventually became a breaking news editor on the National Desk. I was mainly responsible for monitoring breaking news by staying in regular contact with Fox’s affiliate stations across the country. When a big story broke, we initially had to rely on the information that our affiliates were picking up in their local newsrooms. Some of the local editors were understandably so overwhelmed with their own stations’ programming that the last thing they wanted was a call from us. In 2013, one of my former Fox colleagues asked me if I was interested in joining a technology startup called Dataminr. The company’s mission was to create an advanced AI platform that could detect the earliest tips of breaking news and pre-viral stories. Dataminr was looking for breaking news editors who had the experience to train the algorithm to discover these high-impact events. Seeing the potential this technology could have in newsrooms all over the world, I left Fox and took a chance working for a startup that at the time had zero clients. Today, journalists in more than 600 newsrooms depend on Dataminr’s technology for breaking news. What became most fulfilling for me, however, was the value of our platform for the public sector and corporate risk clients. Our early warnings of natural disasters, transportation mishaps, active shooters, and terrorist attacks were helping to protect the public in real time. I’m currently working for Insite, a risk management and consulting firm that uses Dataminr and other information discovery tools, to protect global corporations, asset managers, family offices, and other private clients.
Q: When you started at Saint Anselm College, you probably had no idea that you would end up at a place like Insite. Do you think there is a lesson there for college-aged students?
A: I never could’ve predicted where my career ended up. My roles at Dataminr and Insite didn’t even exist when I graduated in 2008. My recommendation for undergrads would be to focus on the skill-sets that are at the core of a Saint Anselm education—writing ability, humility, people skills, and curiosity.
Q: How do you think the History major helped prepare you for your career?
A: I found that Saint Anselm History professors were especially gifted in being able to unify massive amounts of data points and themes concerning a particular historical period and somehow figure out how to consistently present those findings to students in a highly compelling way. I think back to this whenever I have to brief a client on a new threat or other security-related matter. No matter how much intelligence I collect and analyze, its all for nothing if I don’t effectively communicate my findings.
Q: What was your favorite History course when you were at Saint Anselm College and why?
A: At Dataminr, we developed a three-tiered threshold (Alert, Urgent and Flash) for our real-time notifications. Whenever I trained analysts on how to rank and prioritize these warning signals, as a parallel example, I would often explain to them the tactical, operational and strategic planning model from my War and Revolution class. Although not a perfect analogy, many new hires shared positive feedback that this helped them more easily understand our prioritization system.