Brian Moore graduated with an M.A. in Asian Studies in 2017. He is currently a Sanctions Compliance Officer in the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). OFAC is tasked with creating and implementing sanctions programs against those that threaten U.S. national security system, including the U.S. economy and the global financial system. OAFC identifies companies, individuals, governments, and entire countries to impose sanctions against, including countries like Iran and North Korea, international drug organizations, human rights violators, and those engaged in malign cyber activity. He is specifically tasked with identifying foreign and domestic financial institutions (e.g. banks, money transmitters, cryptocurrency exchanges) that are violating sanctions programs, particularly those facilitating transactions on behalf of North Korea.
Please tell us about yourself. What led to your interests in Asian Studies?
After studying Mandarin Chinese during my undergraduate schooling and then living in China and South Korea for a couple of years, I saw first-hand the momentum in Asia and how important of a role Asia was going to play throughout the 21st century. I also realized just how much culture and history matters in the region, and to really understand the changes happening in Asia would require a deep-dive at the most renowned graduate program out there. For me, the Asian Studies Program was a clear choice. With a healthy combination of academics and government practitioners in addition to the language requirements, I knew the program would provide me the tools to carve out a space in the U.S.-Asia realm. Even before graduation, I knew that the Asian Studies Program had provided me with this toolkit.
How did the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown University prepare you for the challenges and opportunities you face today?
The Asian Studies Program prepared me to tackle a multitude of Asia-related issues, including economics and trade policy, sanctions, nuclear deterrence, historical tensions, and human rights concerns throughout the region. It’s hard to imagine one program could cover all of these topics, but it did for me, and this wide expertise has allowed me to excel in my current capacity and add color in discussions that would’ve otherwise been absent. How Asia functions is still very unfamiliar to many decision-makers, and I have found my background to be incredibly beneficial.
What specific skills and knowledge did you gain from Asian Studies courses at Georgetown?
In my current role, I regularly draft sanctions-related memos that can range from a single page to a full-length 40-page memo similar in structure to a final academic paper. Several courses in the program trained me to capture an issue and frame it succinctly for a target audience in one page, while the academic-heavy courses trained me to write at-length while maintaining logical flow, narrative, and defending an argument. I put these skills to use daily, and completely owe it to the several courses in the program that trained me appropriately.
What advice would you give to prospective/current students in the Asian Studies Program?
I would advise students to keep an open mind about what they want to learn and the type of work they are interested in after graduation. I came into the program with an interest in Chinese domestic politics, pivoted to a focus on the Chinese military, then to a fascination with North Korean illicit activity, and finally to an obsession with economic sanctions and illicit finance throughout the global economy. The Asian Studies Program offers courses on topics you never knew existed, taught by instructors that have personally excelled in these spaces. If you keep your options open, you’ll be amazed at how you develop. I’d also recommend developing strong relationships with your classmates, because it’s likely you’ll work alongside them in some capacity in the future, and having friends in this city never hurts.