Our Team

"People should be leadership's highest priority in all organizations!  People matter most."

-John Anthony Smith


Leadership


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John Anthony Smith

Chief Listening Officer & President 

Chief Listening Officer, John A. Smith, founded Conversant Group in July of 2009 as an outgrowth of his passion to see businesses succeed. He understands there is an absence of leadership in many businesses around the world today.  Most companies, especially public ones, become bottom-line focused, and unfortunately, this focus uses and abuses the people within and outside the business. He is a fervent believer in doing the right thing, and his mission is to cultivate a business built on solid principles that treats people as they should be treated both within and outside the organization. 

As noted earlier, John has roughly 22 years’ experience in Information Technology and 14 years’ experience managing IT consulting firms.  John started in 1994, at the age of 14, at Thompson Machinery Commerce Corporation of Lavergne, TN.  John was involved with the initial roll-out of 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 at Thompson Machinery, so John got a very early start in security, remote access, and virtual desktop infrastructure.  John founded his first company in 1996, Computech. In 2002, he founded his second company, NetAlliant Technologies, LLC, which he sold in 2008.  In 2009, he founded Conversant Group, LLC, and his intention is to continue growing this company into a technology conglomerate.  John graduated with a degree in Organizational Management from Covenant College, and he also attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as a Computer Science major for three years.  He has been engaged on numerous projects with both large and small companies throughout his career, and he uniquely understands business challenges, information technology, people, quality, and process.  He has a passion for people and business success.  

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Brandon Williams

Vice President of Technical Services 

Brandon Williams received his Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems from Middle Tennessee State University in 2003. He received a network administration role in a Japanese automotive parts manufacturer in 2003 where he worked until meeting John Anthony Smith in 2006. Brandon Williams joined the team of John’s prior company in 2006 as a Network Engineer with a focus on network infrastructure design and implementation. In this role, Brandon performed numerous storage, networking, remote access, Exchange, and data center projects. He deployed Terminal Services, Citrix XenServer, Citrix Provisioning Services, Citrix XenApp (Metaframe/Presentation Server), and other core infrastructure products for companies large and small. In 2012, he joined Willis, based in Nashville, as a Citrix Administrator for the IT Infrastructure Platforms team. In this role, he supported IT infrastructure spread across the globe, including a global Citrix XenApp farm for approximately 13,000 users virtualized with VMware on Cisco UCS blade servers. This Citrix support role led to Brandon and John crossing paths once again in early 2015 at a Citrix conference in Orlando, FL. He joined Conversant Group, LLC later that year. Brandon Williams now serves as Conversant Group’s VP of Technical Services, and is centrally responsible for insuring delivery of all consulting and managed services on time, in budget, and to the satisfaction of the customer.


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Jim Thames

Vice President of Sales

Joining us in mid-2016 and bringing over 20 years of technology industry experience to Conversant, one would be hard-pressed to find a man more equipped to grow our business than Jim Thames.  After leaving a career in law enforcement, Jim stepped into the Internet Service Provider bubble of the 1990’s. Throughout the 2000's, Jim worked in multiple technology industries including security, virtualization, and end user computing for corporations like Citrix, RSA, AppSense and Unidesk.  Possessing a unique knowledge of channel, manufacturer, and customer ecosystems, Jim prides himself on his "client-first" approach to identifying and solving customer challenges.  Jim's diverse sales and development experience showcase his rare ability to create, communicate, and close deals that bring all parties involved to a place of mutual satisfaction.

In his spare time, Jim (also known by his nickname, Bandit) enjoys cooking good food, being outdoors, and spending time driving and restoring his 1979 TransAm.

Sales & Marketing

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Ashley Avans

Inside Account Manager, Sales

Ashley is a graduate from Maryville College. She majored in International Studies while minoring in Sociology, Spanish, and Psychology. She has been with Conversant Group for 1 year. She is the Inside Sales Account Manager and has trainings in Dell, Shavlik, Veeam, VMWare, and WatchGuard. Ashley is in charge of quoting, renewing, and ordering products for customers. Outside of work, Ashley’s hobbies include traveling, hiking, and making people laugh. She is also extremely involved at her church.  

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Michael Dishmon

Business Development Executive 

Michael joined Conversant Group in 2016 and brings with him over 21 years of highly successful and diverse sales experience.  His experience includes 8 years in the construction industry, selling construction materials and supplies to General, Mechanical, and Electrical Contractors.  Michael also has over 13 years of experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where he specialized in the Cardiovascular, Diabetes, Antibiotic and Hospital sales markets.  Michael has won numerous awards including multiple Presidents Club, Top Gun, District Representative of the year and Sales Representative of the year awards. He has successfully completed and attained his Certified Sales Professional status with Citrix, VMware and Nimble Storage.  Michael’s belief in putting customers first by listening to their needs, understanding those needs and working together to find the best solution is what drives him to be the best every day.  Michael graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a Bachelor's of Science degree and is a life long resident of Chattanooga.  He is very excited to be a part of the great team at Conversant Group. 
 

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Michael Williams

Marketing Director

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. Michael brings a "can do" attitude to the office each day, bringing an integral dynamic to Conversant Group. He provides an upbeat, out of the box outlook to the team.

Before joining Conversant Group, Michael played lacrosse for Shorter University. He continues to display his passion for the game of lacrosse through coaching a travel lacrosse team. 

Consulting Services

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Michael Ball

Managed Services Engineer & Technical Relationship Manager 

Michael has 18 years of experience in Information Technology.  He has an Associate’s Degree from Pellissippi State Community College in Computer Science and a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management from Tusculum College.  Michael started working as desktop support for Associates Housing Finance/CitiFinancial.  He then moved to GC Services and severed as onsite technical resource.  Following GC Services, Michael was invited to join the Network Administration team at Southeastern Retina Associates (SERA). He supported 20 offices in Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Tri-Cities for roughly 6 years.  In 2012 Michael was hired as IT Director for Campbell, Cunningham & Taylor where he helped to build their infrastructure after they had decided to implement an EMR.  In 2016, Michael joined Conversant Group after Campbell, Cunningham, & Taylor became a managed services' customer.  He joined the team as a Senior Technical Relationship Manager, as he is keenly capable of insuring delivery of our commitments.  He is responsible for customer satisfaction, project implementation at managed customers, on-boarding of new managed customers, and insuring service delivery within the limits of our commitments.  He’s been involved in project management of several new office setups, application deployments, and extensive infrastructure upgrades.  He has experience with VMware, Veeam, Kaspersky, WatchGuard, Nimble, Exchange Online, Mimecast, Remote Desktop Services, Citrix, SQL, and Exchange.


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Bill Levin

Senior Network Infrastructure Consultant

Prior to becoming a Principle Infrastructure Consultant at Conversant Group, Bill Levin was an infrastructure engineer for five years in the manufacturing and warehousing space with a heavy background in designing and maintaining Cisco wireless, security, routing, and switching solutions.  These manufacturing and warehousing sites ranged from multi-site mining facilities, two million square foot warehouses, to retail stores with five hundred locations that needed to securely maintain wireless infrastructure supporting hundreds of mobile devices across the country.  He worked on projects troubleshooting network issues for Michelin, Kenco Group, McKee Foods, Denso Manufacturing, M-Tek, Apollo Valves, Mueller, Amerex, Lonza, Akebono Brakes, Bush Brothers Beans, Jack Daniels, Chattem, Citi Trends, Duke Energy, EPB, Heatmax, Merchant Foods, Mohawk, Remington, Glock, Riverbend, Sanford, Siskin Steel, Takeuchi, Vulcan, and Whirlpool.  Bill also previously supported a local radiology firm in Chattanooga that had a Picture Archival Storage facility securely supporting 13 imaging centers across north Georgia and Tennessee.  At Conversant Group, Bill has headed up the wireless, routing and switching, and network security for our customers, and he maintains Cisco Security Certifications recognized by the NSA.


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Hamilton Moore

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

Hamilton Moore has 22 years of IT experience. He began his IT career in 1994 working for the Shelby County Government on a project to update the Shelby County Correctional Center from ArcNET to EtherNET. In 1995 he relocated to Washington, DC to work for Iridium, LLC, to provide end-user technical support for the company. He relocated to Nashville, TN in 1997 and began working for Renal Care Group. As the onsite technical manager, his focus on customer support and the end-user experience is what caught the attention of the VP of Technology and made Hamilton the obvious choice to create the company’s first help desk. In 1999, Hamilton began consulting with Willis, Inc. His role was to review the company’s North American Help Desk in Nashville, TN and to provide training to improve first time call resolution and overall user experience. Hamilton would spend the next 8 years at Willis in various roles from Help Desk team lead, to Platforms engineer helping to manage the corporate North American Data Center, to Global Service Desk Director leading the project to insource the European Help Desk and consolidate it to a new 24/7 internal service delivered from Nashville. Hamilton joined Prison Health Services, a Nashville based health services provider to jails and prisons throughout North America, as the company’s Director of IT Operations. There he established a 24/7 Service Desk to meet the needs of its 10,000 health care providers working in city and county jails and prisons. He was invited back to Willis in 2010 to work on the company’s Global Infrastructure Platforms team as the lead Citrix engineer managing a farm of 400+ terminal servers around the world delivering over 2500 published applications. Hamilton was invited to join Conversant Group in 2016 and works as a Principle Infrastructure Consultant, leading projects in Citrix, Exchange, Liquidware Labs, server migrations, and virtualization. 

Managed Services

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Chris Childress

Managed Services Engineer

Chris Childress originates from the Atlanta, GA area but has lived and worked in and around Chattanooga for over 20 years and considers himself a "native".  Chris began his career in IT as a self-employed consultant who supported user, hardware and applications for insurance, loan origination, and manufacturing businesses.  Over time Chris found a position at Dialysis Clinic Inc. where he spent eight years supporting and implementing solutions for custom and legacy software and hardware for the day-to-day operations of nine Chattanooga-area outpatient clinics and ~250 users.  Chris joined Conversant Group, LLC in 2014 where he provides personalized and enthusiastic support for the users who depend on Conversant Group while championing the adoption of new and better solutions for process management, automation and customer care.

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Clifford Gadd

Technical Support Coordinator

Clifford has over 3 years of IT experience. He holds Microsoft certifications for both Windows server and Windows desktop, and is also finishing up his BS in Information Technology at Western Governors University. During his free time, you can find Clifford tinkering with new tech or hanging out with his dog Tavi. Clifford is the Technical Support Coordinator at Conversant Group.

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Taylor Witt

Managed Services Engineer

Taylor joined our team in March 2014. As he pursues his Network Engineering degree at Chattanooga State, Taylor assists in the technical sales process as well as manages infrastructure projects.  He is an intelligent engineer with the will, skill, and knowledge to get the job done on-time, in-budget, and to spec.

In addition to the cerebral challenges of technology and learning new things, he also enjoys exploring our scenic region through hiking and camping.