People

5thColumn's staff of Cisco CCIE / CCNP engineers collaborate with our security experts to create truly innovative products.

Lead by Raymond Hicks, architect for the Department of Homeland Security's network and security infrastructure, Ray assembled a collection of subject matter experts with proven track records who have consistently provided thought leadership directly impacting the security market-place.

Raymond Hicks

Founder & CTO, 5thColumn, LLC.


Ray has over fifteen years of progressive management and technical leadership experience, within both the public and private sectors. He is a forward thinking problem solver creating cross-functional teams and solutions for Service Provider (Carrier), Enterprise, and Middle-tier markets with high client satisfaction and business improvement rating. He has demonstrated ability to create immediate value and communicate vision, mission, and goals of strategic initiatives among all levels within an organization and drive teams to success through a unique yet proven hands on approach.

Ray is an award winning visionary who has addressed audiences worldwide ranging from the Pentagon, every branch within the Department of Defense (DoD), Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), NATO, and DHS (Homeland Security) as well as several industry events including Black Hat, DEFCON, SANS institute, ISACA, IETF with a special emphasis on emerging technology and threats.

By his industry colleagues, Ray has often been called a serial entrepreneur with the knowledge and expertise gained through big business and former mentors. By his employees, Ray has often been called a big kid who loves having the office outfitted like a man cave. A frequent visitor of any Apple store anywhere, Ray has never met a technical toy or gadget that he didn't love.

Mike Donnell

Chief Executive Officer


Mike has a history of success transforming companies in a wide range of technology services to consumer, small business, and enterprise customers. Over the course of his career, Mike has commercialized technology and formed strategic partnerships with Nokia, Microsoft, Comcast, Sony Ericsson, and Flextonics, just to name a few.

In two separate cases, he was able to turn 10+ year old unprofitable businesses to profit within 120 days and sustained 50%+ revenue growth in 3 different companies spanning 15 years. Mike is a passionate leader creating high performing teams with a relentless focus on driving customer and employee satisfaction, product quality and shareholder value.

John Bode

Chief Financial Officer


John has over 20 years of experience in the financial accounting and operations area. John's expertise and focus include: operational transformation, strategic & financial planning, mergers and acquisition, debt and equity issuance, risk management, process improvement, and capital raising.

Prior to joining 5th Column, John was the Chief Financial Officer of Tribune Publishing Company during the spin-off from Tribune Media into a publicly traded company listed on the NYSE. In addition to leading the development of a completely new financial leadership team to support the new organization he also was responsible for Technology and Risk Management functions at Tribune Publishing during the complex separation.

Before joining Tribune, John was promoted to Chief Financial Officer of Source Interlink Companies after having spent many years in finance and operating roles. Source Interlink Companies consisted of both a large enthusiast media division (e.g. Motor Trend, Hot Rod, Surfer, etc.) as well as a market leading distribution and logistics company providing direct-to-store delivery to thousands of retail locations.

John began his career as a CPA with BDO Seidman, LLP in St. Louis and Chicago after graduating from Notre Dame with a degree in Accountancy.

Tom Gensch

Vice President of Strategic Partnerships


Thomas brings over 25 years of revenue-driven, security, digital commerce, SAAS, sales and marketing experience to 5th Column. He specializes in building well oiled sales team, strategic partnerships, driving growth for companies by identifying real pain point targets for acquiring new customers.

His experience includes selling services in both the public and private sectors. While serving as President of Quipa, a leading global cyber security company, he leveraged his security knowledge to assist large enterprises in need of protecting their virtual assets.

Previously, he was the Chief Revenue Officer for MuseGlobal, where he worked with agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and the Department of Justice to connect federal, state and local agencies to nationwide fusion centers for data harvesting.

Prior to MuseGlobal, Thomas served as Chief Growth Officer at Cygnus Business Media, where he assisted in developing platforms that provided growth opportunities for digital media programs by driving new revenue streams, and repackaging and developing existing assets that increased revenue growth.

He also led international customer acquisition efforts for more than 400 corporate institutions and 135 universities and nonprofit organizations as Vice President of Knovel Corporation. His revenue leadership positions have contributed to two successful IPO's in two different industries.

Tom graduated from Bryant University with a Bachelor's degree in Law Enforcement and degree in Criminal Justice from CCM.

Keith Schawel

Director of Security Engineering


Background:

Keith is a Security Engineer with over ten years of IT security experience. Schawel has spent the balance of his career at W.W. Grainger, Inc. in a wide range of security roles. Starting in Network Security, he wrote a custom firewall request workflow application to streamline changes and correlate them with SEIM events, migrated and maintained CheckPoint firewalls, and deployed Cisco IronPort appliances. From there Schawel moved to an Identity Management role where he filled gaps by writing a custom monitoring solution and developed an XML interface for data and user synchronization to various systems.

As a Security Engineer, he designed and implemented security solutions involving firewalls and VPN devices and lead a team that did the same. He enjoys remodeling his home and playing modern board games. Schawel and his wife are expecting a new baby to add to their three boys (under 5!), a dog, and a cat.

Top 5 technologies:

  • Firewalls / IPS
  • Linux / Web Application Security
  • Identity management and Access Control
  • Security Event Management
  • Cisco Trustsec solutions

Mark Hooper

Director of System Architecture


Background:

Mark Hooper joined 5thColumn as the Director of System Architecture in late 2016. Mark is a career security professional with over 18 years of experience and came to us from Nokia’s CloudBand organization, where he was the security lead for Nokia’s Telecom grade OpenStack Platform.

His depth of experience spans managed security services, incident response, forensic investigation, risk assessment, virtualization and cloud computing. His overall career focus has always been security however he has enjoyed a few business analyst roles which have been invaluable to better understand the impact of security decisions on the business.

Mark is comfortable both in the boardroom describing the overall security architecture, roadmap and strategy and at the same time rolling up his sleeves and getting dirty in the trenches configuring networking equipment followed up by a penetration test. He is both versatile and driven, always focused on the business needs and will do what is necessary to get the job done.

Mike Sullivan

Director of Service Desk


With over 19 years of IT industry experience, Mike focuses his attention on activities that directly impact the experience our clients and partners have come to expect from 5thColumn.

In his 4 years, Mike has held many key roles throughout the organization. He has provided leadership within finance, sales, customer service, operations and his current role today, directing the service desk. Mike works with our sales staff, engineering, and SOC/NOC teams to deliver projects and managed services to our growing client portfolio.

Mike provides our teams with the framework used to exceed the demands of our growing customer base. His attention to detail, knowledge of our industry, and tireless desire to ensure our clients success is at the forefront of our conversations and has led Mike to be a key contributor to the overall success of the organization.

Mike enjoys spending time with his wife and 4 children outside of the office. Playing golf, tennis, basketball and spending time at the family's lake house during the summer are a few of his hobbies outside the office. From his electric old school style, Mike brings a colorful personality to the office each day.

Michaela Neatherton

Director of Marketing


Michaela Neatherton brings over 10 years of experience in marketing and public relations in the start-up space to 5thColumn. Her specialties include branding, strategy, and strategic planning.

Prior to joining the 5C team, Michaela was the Director of Marketing and Partner Development at Sente Advisory, an international start-up accelerator. There, she directed all marketing efforts, including rebranding the startups for entry into the U.S. market. She also previously directed international marketing at Intellectual Property Exchange International (IPXI), client relations at James Perse Los Angeles and spent several years directing marketing and rebranding at Northbound Treatment Services, previously known as NTS, in Newport Beach, California.

Michaela holds a BA in Public Relations and Advertising from Chapman University and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago. She teaches Entrepreneurship for Associated Colleges of the Midwest and volunteers for the Anti-Cruelty Society. She is a native of Southern California and currently lives in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago.

Raymond Hicks

Founder & CTO, 5thColumn, LLC.


Ray has over fifteen years of progressive management and technical leadership experience, within both the public and private sectors. He is a forward thinking problem solver creating cross-functional teams and solutions for Service Provider (Carrier), Enterprise, and Middle-tier markets with high client satisfaction and business improvement rating. He has demonstrated ability to create immediate value and communicate vision, mission, and goals of strategic initiatives among all levels within an organization and drive teams to success through a unique yet proven hands on approach.

Ray is an award winning visionary who has addressed audiences worldwide ranging from the Pentagon, every branch within the Department of Defense (DoD), Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), NATO, and DHS (Homeland Security) as well as several industry events including Black Hat, DEFCON, SANS institute, ISACA, IETF with a special emphasis on emerging technology and threats.

By his industry colleagues, Ray has often been called a serial entrepreneur with the knowledge and expertise gained through big business and former mentors. By his employees, Ray has often been called a big kid who loves having the office outfitted like a man cave. A frequent visitor of any Apple store anywhere, Ray has never met a technical toy or gadget that he didn't love.

Mike Donnell

Chief Executive Officer


Mike has a history of success transforming companies in a wide range of technology services to consumer, small business, and enterprise customers. Over the course of his career, Mike has commercialized technology and formed strategic partnerships with Nokia, Microsoft, Comcast, Sony Ericsson, and Flextonics, just to name a few.

In two separate cases, he was able to turn 10+ year old unprofitable businesses to profit within 120 days and sustained 50%+ revenue growth in 3 different companies spanning 15 years. Mike is a passionate leader creating high performing teams with a relentless focus on driving customer and employee satisfaction, product quality and shareholder value.

John Bode

Chief Financial Officer


John has over 20 years of experience in the financial accounting and operations area. John's expertise and focus include: operational transformation, strategic & financial planning, mergers and acquisition, debt and equity issuance, risk management, process improvement, and capital raising.

Prior to joining 5th Column, John was the Chief Financial Officer of Tribune Publishing Company during the spin-off from Tribune Media into a publicly traded company listed on the NYSE. In addition to leading the development of a completely new financial leadership team to support the new organization he also was responsible for Technology and Risk Management functions at Tribune Publishing during the complex separation.

Before joining Tribune, John was promoted to Chief Financial Officer of Source Interlink Companies after having spent many years in finance and operating roles. Source Interlink Companies consisted of both a large enthusiast media division (e.g. Motor Trend, Hot Rod, Surfer, etc.) as well as a market leading distribution and logistics company providing direct-to-store delivery to thousands of retail locations.

John began his career as a CPA with BDO Seidman, LLP in St. Louis and Chicago after graduating from Notre Dame with a degree in Accountancy.

Mark Hooper

Director of System Architecture


Background:

Mark Hooper joined 5thColumn as the Director of System Architecture in late 2016. Mark is a career security professional with over 18 years of experience and came to us from Nokia’s CloudBand organization, where he was the security lead for Nokia’s Telecom grade OpenStack Platform.

His depth of experience spans managed security services, incident response, forensic investigation, risk assessment, virtualization and cloud computing. His overall career focus has always been security however he has enjoyed a few business analyst roles which have been invaluable to better understand the impact of security decisions on the business.

Mark is comfortable both in the boardroom describing the overall security architecture, roadmap and strategy and at the same time rolling up his sleeves and getting dirty in the trenches configuring networking equipment followed up by a penetration test. He is both versatile and driven, always focused on the business needs and will do what is necessary to get the job done.

Tom Gensch

Vice President of Strategic Partnerships


Thomas brings over 25 years of revenue-driven, security, digital commerce, SAAS, sales and marketing experience to 5th Column. He specializes in building well oiled sales team, strategic partnerships, driving growth for companies by identifying real pain point targets for acquiring new customers.

His experience includes selling services in both the public and private sectors. While serving as President of Quipa, a leading global cyber security company, he leveraged his security knowledge to assist large enterprises in need of protecting their virtual assets.

Previously, he was the Chief Revenue Officer for MuseGlobal, where he worked with agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and the Department of Justice to connect federal, state and local agencies to nationwide fusion centers for data harvesting.

Prior to MuseGlobal, Thomas served as Chief Growth Officer at Cygnus Business Media, where he assisted in developing platforms that provided growth opportunities for digital media programs by driving new revenue streams, and repackaging and developing existing assets that increased revenue growth.

He also led international customer acquisition efforts for more than 400 corporate institutions and 135 universities and nonprofit organizations as Vice President of Knovel Corporation. His revenue leadership positions have contributed to two successful IPO's in two different industries.

Tom graduated from Bryant University with a Bachelor's degree in Law Enforcement and degree in Criminal Justice from CCM.

Michaela Neatherton

Director of Marketing


Michaela Neatherton brings over 10 years of experience in marketing and public relations in the start-up space to 5thColumn. Her specialties include branding, strategy, and strategic planning.

Prior to joining the 5C team, Michaela was the Director of Marketing and Partner Development at Sente Advisory, an international start-up accelerator. There, she directed all marketing efforts, including rebranding the startups for entry into the U.S. market. She also previously directed international marketing at Intellectual Property Exchange International (IPXI), client relations at James Perse Los Angeles and spent several years directing marketing and rebranding at Northbound Treatment Services, previously known as NTS, in Newport Beach, California.

Michaela holds a BA in Public Relations and Advertising from Chapman University and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago. She teaches Entrepreneurship for Associated Colleges of the Midwest and volunteers for the Anti-Cruelty Society. She is a native of Southern California and currently lives in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago.

Keith Schawel

Director of Security Engineering


Background:

Keith is a Security Engineer with over ten years of IT security experience. Schawel has spent the balance of his career at W.W. Grainger, Inc. in a wide range of security roles. Starting in Network Security, he wrote a custom firewall request workflow application to streamline changes and correlate them with SEIM events, migrated and maintained CheckPoint firewalls, and deployed Cisco IronPort appliances. From there Schawel moved to an Identity Management role where he filled gaps by writing a custom monitoring solution and developed an XML interface for data and user synchronization to various systems.

As a Security Engineer, he designed and implemented security solutions involving firewalls and VPN devices and lead a team that did the same. He enjoys remodeling his home and playing modern board games. Schawel and his wife are expecting a new baby to add to their three boys (under 5!), a dog, and a cat.

Top 5 technologies:

  • Firewalls / IPS
  • Linux / Web Application Security
  • Identity management and Access Control
  • Security Event Management
  • Cisco Trustsec solutions

Mike Sullivan

Director of Service Desk


With over 19 years of IT industry experience, Mike focuses his attention on activities that directly impact the experience our clients and partners have come to expect from 5thColumn.

In his 4 years, Mike has held many key roles throughout the organization. He has provided leadership within finance, sales, customer service, operations and his current role today, directing the service desk. Mike works with our sales staff, engineering, and SOC/NOC teams to deliver projects and managed services to our growing client portfolio.

Mike provides our teams with the framework used to exceed the demands of our growing customer base. His attention to detail, knowledge of our industry, and tireless desire to ensure our clients success is at the forefront of our conversations and has led Mike to be a key contributor to the overall success of the organization.

Mike enjoys spending time with his wife and 4 children outside of the office. Playing golf, tennis, basketball and spending time at the family's lake house during the summer are a few of his hobbies outside the office. From his electric old school style, Mike brings a colorful personality to the office each day.

Read a profile of our talented members.

Read more
about
Ray

Ray
Hicks


Founder / CTO

Read more
about
Mike

Mike
Donnell


Chief Executive Officer

Read more
about
John

John
Bode


Chief Financial Officer

Read more
about
Mike

Mike
Sullivan


Director of Service Desk

Read more
about
Mark

Mark
Hooper


Director of System Architecture

Read more
about
Tom

Tom
Gensch


Vice President of Strategic Partnerships

Read more
about
Keith

Keith
Schawel


Director of Security Engineering

Read more
about
Michaela

Michaela
Neatherton


Director of Marketing

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