Leading innovation

Conversant Group is an IT infrastructure and security consulting company based in Chattanooga, TN. Conversant Group has provided technical, organizational, procedural, and process consulting internationally since the company was formed in 2009.

Unlike many in IT, Conversant Group has a unique perspective: technology is a tool, nothing more. Technology should support the business, and the business should support the people.

 

 

Our approach:

Plan with perspective.

Act with precision.

Serve with passion. 

our
leadership
team

John Anthony
Smith

Chief Listening Officer & President

Chief Listening Officer, John Anthony Smith, founded Conversant Group in July of 2009 as an outgrowth of his passion to cultivate people-focused business.

Engaged on numerous projects and consultations with companies both large and small throughout his 24-year career, John Anthony understands the unique challenges of conducting business on a human-centric level — its strategy, quality, and process.  He especially understands the practice of law, as he has served law firms’ technological and business needs since 1998.

John Anthony started his IT career in 1994, at the age of 14, at Thompson Machinery Commerce Corporation of Lavergne, TN. While working with Thompson Machinery, John Anthony was involved with the initial rollout of multiple industry-leading technologies including: Citrix Winframe, IBM NetStation, Window NT 3.51, Windows NT 4.0, Windows NT Terminal Services Edition, remote access via Shiva, ISDN Internet, and WebSense.

During his time at Thompson Machinery, John Anthony founded his first company, Computech, in 1996. In 2002, he founded his second company, NetAlliant Technologies, which he sold in 2008.

In 2009, he founded Conversant Group, a technology conglomerate based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, serving clients across North America.

John Anthony studied Computer Science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and holds a degree in Organizational Management from Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

David
Barker

Chief Financial Officer

David joined our team in mid-2017 as Chief Financial Officer.

After serving six years as a radar technician in the United States Air Force, he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Georgia. After graduating, David worked in public accounting for a mid-sized accounting firm in Atlanta, Georgia, where he performed audit and tax services for German subsidiaries operating in the United States.  It was in this role that David learned the many nuances of financial reporting for small and medium sized businesses.

After receiving his CPA license, David joined the Internal Audit department of Arby’s Restaurant Group. While at Arby’s, he audited controls over financial reporting for a 4 billion dollar-company, in addition to auditing corporate and franchised restaurants.  It was a revolutionary time to be at Arby’s, as the company had recently launched its new marketing campaign and experienced 17 quarters of same-store sales growth.

In February of 2015, David parted ways with Arby’s to help run his father’s Ace Hardware enterprise in Austin, Texas, as CFO.  The network of three stores produced $13 million in revenue and had recently opened a fourth location in 2018.  As a financial leader, David learned the importance of accurate financial reporting and consistent accounting practices.

Back in the southeast with Conversant Group as CFO, David brings extensive experience in accounting, taxes, costing, and pro-growth financial leadership to our team.

Shayne
Champion

Chief Information Security Officer

Shayne was brought onto the Conversant Group team in early 2018 as the Chief Information Security Officer. With over 20 years of Information Technology (IT) experience, Shayne has built, worked in, lead, and/or managed a wide variety of IT Security organizations.  These include Director of Information Security & Architecture for Erlanger Health System (the nation’s 6th largest public healthcare system), Senior Program Manager for Hydroelectric Cyber Security at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and the Information System Security Officer (ISSO) for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST).

In all of these opportunities, he has worked to reduce IT risk by implementing robust internal control systems both as a practitioner and as an auditor. He understands the role of Information Security in support of corporate strategy and has obtained his Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) to broaden his business knowledge.  Shayne also holds several professional certifications including his CISSP, CISA, and GSEC.  When combined with his drive for process improvement, demonstrated knowledge, and leadership Shayne is a proven asset to the profession.

As a professional and community leader, Shayne actively serves as a mentor, trainer, and advocate for the information security profession. He serves on a number of Boards of Directors including the local ISSA chapter, is a mentor for SANS, served multiple years as an examiner for the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (the state-level agency for the National Baldrige Awards), provided training at national conferences, and has published internationally.

Brandon
Williams

Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer, Brandon is centrally responsible for ensuring the delivery of all consulting and managed services on-time, in-budget, and to the satisfaction of the customer.

Brandon started his professional career in 2003, after receiving a Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems. Upon graduation, Brandon accepted a network administration post at a Japanese automotive parts manufacturer in the Nashville area.

Shortly after meeting John Anthony Smith in 2006, Brandon signed on with NetAlliant Technologies, LLC, as a Network Engineer with a focus on network infrastructure design and implementation. In this role, Brandon performed an array of storage, networking, remote access, Exchange, and data center projects. 
After starting with NetAlliant, Brandon began delivering industry-leading consultation to companies large and small using Terminal Services, Citrix XenServer, Citrix Provisioning Services, Citrix XenApp (Metaframe/Presentation Server), and other core infrastructure products.

In 2012, Brandon joined Willis, a Nashville-based company, as a Citrix Administrator for the IT Infrastructure Platforms team. In this role, Brandon supported IT infrastructures across the globe — one of which included a global Citrix XenApp farm for approximately 13,000 users virtualized with VMware on Cisco UCS blade servers.

His Citrix support role led to Brandon and John crossing paths once again in early 2015 at a Citrix conference in Orlando, FL. Later that year, Brandon joined Conversant Group. He has led technical services for us ever since.

David
Graves

Senior Project Manager

David has over 20 years of experience in the technology arena with extensive professional services delivery experience. In addition, David has senior and executive level experience managing complex, multi-use technology divisions. He began his career with the US Army in communications, where he built on technical skills in infrastructure. His responsibilities expanded to include project delivery of IT services, often this included application delivery. David’s experience grew to include executive-level leadership focusing on IT service delivery as a project-centered delivery model. This delivery model was demonstrated in organizations such as being CIO for a State Supreme Court System. This included developing a service delivery organization built on project delivery of new services.

In his role as Senior Project Manager at Conversant Group, David builds on the services-centered strategy that is clearly defined while overseeing project delivery performance. He maintains project service delivery team morale by ensuring an environment exists that supports the teamwork mindset. His clear and consistent communication, along with his client service skills, enhance Conversant Group’s servant leadership mindset and process-driven project management philosophy.

David graduated from Georgia Southern University with a BBA with an MIS focus. He is also PMP certified since 2009 and ITILv3 certified since 2010. He has held numerous manufacturer and industry certifications throughout his career.

Michael
Williams

Director of Marketing

Michael joined our team in May of 2016, after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree of Communication from Shorter University with a focus in Marketing, Public Relations, and Advertising. Through his studies, Michael assists with the study of the sociodynamics between the end user and the ever changing world of technology.

Bringing dynamic energy and out-of-the-box approaches to marketing and public relations, Michael is an integral part of Conversant Group’s client relations and business development.

Before joining Conversant Group, Michael played lacrosse for Shorter University. He continues to display his passion for leadership and competition as coaching a travel lacrosse team on the weekends.

John Anthony Smith

Chief Listening Officer & President

Chief Listening Officer, John Anthony Smith, founded Conversant Group in July of 2009 as an outgrowth of his passion to cultivate people-focused business.
Engaged on numerous projects and consultations with companies both large and small throughout his 24-year career, John Anthony understands the unique challenges of conducting business on a human-centric level — its strategy, quality, and process.  He especially understands the practice of law, as he has served law firms’ technological and business needs since 1998.

John Anthony started his IT career in 1994, at the age of 14, at Thompson Machinery Commerce Corporation of Lavergne, TN. While working with Thompson Machinery, John Anthony was involved with the initial rollout of multiple industry-leading technologies including: Citrix Winframe, IBM NetStation, Window NT 3.51, Windows NT 4.0, Windows NT Terminal Services Edition, remote access via Shiva, ISDN Internet, and WebSense.

During his time at Thompson Machinery, John Anthony founded his first company, Computech, in 1996. In 2002, he founded his second company, NetAlliant Technologies, which he sold in 2008.

In 2009, he founded Conversant Group, a technology conglomerate based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, serving clients across North America.

John Anthony studied Computer Science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and holds a degree in Organizational Management from Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

David Barker

Chief Financial Officer

David joined our team in mid-2017 as Chief Financial Officer.

After serving six years as a radar technician in the United States Air Force, he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Georgia. After graduating, David worked in public accounting for a mid-sized firm in Atlanta, Georgia, where he performed audit and tax services for German subsidiaries operating in the United States.  It was in this role that David learned the many nuances of financial reporting for small and medium sized businesses.

After receiving his CPA license, David joined the Internal Audit department of Arby’s Restaurant Group. While at Arby’s, he audited controls over financial reporting for a 4 billion dollar-company, in addition to auditing corporate and franchised restaurants.  It was a revolutionary time to be at Arby’s, as the company recently launched its new marketing campaign and experienced 17 quarters of same-store sales growth.

In February of 2015, David parted ways with Arby’s to help run his father’s Ace Hardware enterprise in Austin, Texas, as CFO.  The network of three stores produced $13 million in revenue and recently opened a fourth location in 2018.  As a financial leader, David learned the importance of accurate financial reporting and consistent accounting practices.

Back in the southeast with Conversant Group as CFO, David brings extensive experience in accounting, taxes, costing, and pro-growth financial leadership to our team.

Shayne Champion

Chief Information Security Officer

Shayne was brought onto the Conversant Group team in early 2018 as the new Chief Information Security Officer. With over 20 years of Information Technology (IT) experience, Shayne has built, worked in, lead, and/or managed a wide variety of IT Security organizations.  These include Director of Information Security & Architecture for Erlanger Health System (the nation’s 6th largest public healthcare system), Senior Program Manager for Hydroelectric Cyber Security at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and the Information System Security Officer (ISSO) for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST).

In all of these opportunities, he has worked to reduce IT risk by implementing systems of robust internal control systems both as a practitioner and as an auditor. However, he understands the role of Information Security in support of corporate strategy and has obtained his Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) to broaden his business knowledge.  Shayne also holds several professional certifications including his CISSP, CISA, and GSEC.  When combined with his drive for process improvement, demonstrated knowledge, and leadership Shayne is a proven asset to the profession.

As a professional and community leader, Shayne actively serves as a mentor, trainer, and advocate for the information security profession. He serves on a number of Boards of Directors including the local ISSA chapter, is a mentor for SANS, served multiple years as an examiner for the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (the state-level agency for the National Baldrige Awards), provided training at national conferences, and has published internationally.

Brandon Williams

Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer, Brandon is centrally responsible for ensuring the delivery of all consulting and managed services on-time, in-budget, and to the satisfaction of the customer.

Brandon started his professional career in 2003, after receiving a Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems. Upon graduation, Brandon accepted a network administration post at a Japanese automotive parts manufacturer in the Nashville area.

Shortly after meeting John Anthony Smith in 2006, Brandon signed on with NetAlliant Technologies, LLC, as a Network Engineer with a focus on network infrastructure design and implementation. In this role, Brandon performed an array of storage, networking, remote access, Exchange, and data center projects. 
After starting with NetAlliant, Brandon began delivering industry-leading consultation to companies large and small using Terminal Services, Citrix XenServer, Citrix Provisioning Services, Citrix XenApp (Metaframe/Presentation Server), and other core infrastructure products.

In 2012, Brandon joined Willis, a Nashville-based company, as a Citrix Administrator for the IT Infrastructure Platforms team. In this role, Brandon supported IT infrastructures across the globe — one of which included a global Citrix XenApp farm for approximately 13,000 users virtualized with VMware on Cisco UCS blade servers.

His Citrix support role led to Brandon and John crossing paths once again in early 2015 at a Citrix conference in Orlando, FL. Later that year, Brandon joined Conversant Group. He has led technical services for us ever since.

David Graves

Senior Project Manager

David has over 20 years of experience in the technology arena with extensive professional services delivery experience. In addition, David has senior and executive level experience managing complex, multi-use technology divisions. He began his career with the US Army in communications, where he built on technical skills in infrastructure. His responsibilities expanded to include project delivery of IT services, often this included application delivery. David’s experience grew to include executive-level leadership focusing on IT service delivery as a project-centered delivery model. This delivery model was demonstrated in organizations such as being CIO for a State Supreme Court System. This included developing a service delivery organization built on project delivery of new services.

In his role as Senior Project Manager at Conversant Group, David builds on the services-centered strategy that is clearly defined while overseeing project delivery performance. He maintains project service delivery team morale by ensuring an environment exists that supports the teamwork mindset. His clear and consistent communication, along with his client service skills, enhance Conversant Group’s servant leadership mindset and process-driven project management philosophy.

David graduated from Georgia Southern University with a BBA with an MIS focus. He is also PMP certified since 2009 and ITILv3 certified since 2010. He has held numerous manufacturer and industry certifications throughout his career.

Michael Williams

Director of Marketing

Michael joined our team in May of 2016, after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree of Communication from Shorter University with a focus in Marketing, Public Relations, and Advertising. Through his studies, Michael assists with the study of the sociodynamics between the end user and the ever changing world of technology.

Bringing dynamic energy and out-of-the-box approaches to marketing and public relations, Michael is an integral part of Conversant Group’s client relations and business development.

Before joining Conversant Group, Michael played lacrosse for Shorter University. He continues to display his passion for leadership and competition as coaching a travel lacrosse team on the weekends.

let’s build

a purposeful

relationship

together

 

 

 

 

learn more about us

 

contact us