Independent Business Partners

Our assessors are SkeensMcDonell Partners and Business Partners who are executives, managers, and subject matter that have a proven track record of excelling in their areas of expertise. Each assessment team is carefully chosen based on the type and objectives of the assessment.


kris barkerKris Barker, PMP

As a Director of Development with Alcatel-Lucent, Kris led teams responsible for R&D of hardware and software integral to 2G and 3G Wireless solutions. Her functional responsibilities ranged from systems architecture and requirements to development, test, field support and end-to-end product and project management.

Kris also served as an assessor on various  program review teams and led cross-organizational efforts to achieve common and industry certified (e.g., ISO, CMMI) processes. She has a passion for creating and improving operational processes and enjoys working with teams to enable their success.

Kris holds an MS degree in Computer Science from The Illinois Institute of Technology. She received her BS degree in Computer Science from The University of Wisconsin – Madison.  Kris is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute (PMI).



Cheryl BlumCheryl Blum

Cheryl’s career spans almost 35 years of work in the telecommunications and ICT industry. She is highly skilled in various aspects of telecommunications and worked for AT&T/Alcatel-Lucent for over 30 years.

Cheryl held the position of Vice-President for Technology and Standards for the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) for over four years, until retiring from TIA in 2013. During her tenure, she was responsible for overseeing the entire technology and standards department which included management of the domestic and international standards activities as well as continuous expansion and growth in new technology areas.

Cheryl has extensive experience in domestic and international standards development for the ICT Industry, spanning several organizations such as TIA, ATIS, ANSI, ITU, IEC, ISO, 3GPP2, 3GPP, and oneM2M. She is well known and recognized for international diplomacy and for her many leadership roles in various standards and standards related development organizations, including Chair of TIA TR-45 (Wireless Communications), Chair for the 3GPP2 Steering Committee, Vice-Chair of oneM2M project, Chair for the Global Radio Standards Collaboration (GRSC) in June 2006, and Member of the U.S. National Committee (USNC) Council of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for three years. Cheryl received the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Meritorious Service Award for 2014. She received a Master of Science Degree (Computer Science) from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.



Michael CareyMichael Carey

Originally a hardware and software design engineer, Michael has more than 42 years in telecommunications, defense, gaming, and other transaction-based industries, in hands-on and senior management roles including architecture, systems engineering, marketing and product management, sales and business development, project management, quality process management, product development and testing.

Michael retired from full time employment in 2016 after 21 years with Cisco Systems, having held prior positions with StrataCom Systems, Gandalf Systems, Infotron Systems, Case Communications, Scitec Australia, Real Time Systems and AWA Ltd. He has extensive experience in fixed and mobile telephony, video-text, frame relay, ATM, fixed and mobile wireless data, core and access IP based data networking, and related technologies. Michael has a strong personal interest and experience in extreme scale, non-stop/high-reliability networking for global telcos and major enterprise corporations in financial and transaction based industries, including deployments for AT&T, Singapore Telecom and Telstra.

Michael is an Australian national with extensive global experience, including nine years based in the USA, projects in the UK and Singapore, and shorter assignments in Asia, Europe and the Americas. He did coursework in Electrical Engineering at the NSW Institute of Technology.



susan cheneySusan Cheney

Susan has joined SkeensMcDonell as a faculty member.

Susan spent over twenty years in the wireless and telecommunications sector working for Sprint and SBC. As an Area Vice President, Susan led a multi-state sales and customer support organization. She pioneered a management training program for her retail and business-to-business directors and sales executives. She also held leadership positions at SBC in Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning and spent time as an instructor at the regional training center specializing in sales education.

 In 2005, Susan was selected as one of the 25 most influential women in business by the Chicago Ledger.  Most recently, Susan was a Campus Director at Rasmussen College where she oversaw the enrollment and curriculum delivery.  

Susan graduated with honors from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing.



Mark EnnisMark Ennis

Mark Ennis is founder and lead consultant for 5P Consulting, LLC which specializes in program, portfolio, product, process and performance management with a focus on systematic results from vision to execution.

Most recently working for Scientific Games, Mark is responsible for program management of M&A execution, post-acquisition integration and corporate consolidation and restructuring. Prior to Scientific Games, Mark was employed by Nokia Networks and Motorola. Mark has held a variety of leadership roles including product development, product management and quality management/process improvement.

Mark graduated with a BS Computer Science degree from the University of Illinois and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Mark is a PMP certified project manager and also Prosci ADKAR certified in change management.



noca ervinNoca Ervin, PMP

Noca Ervin has over 22 years of senior engineering and supervisory project / program management expertise in the Telecommunications Industry. She has experience leading international teams to successfully deliver complex telecommunication products for Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies and Alcatel-Lucent.

Noca is well-versed in strategic planning and highly proficient at leading multi-level teams focused on attaining objectives through achievement-driven teamwork. She has strong abilities in providing organizational direction, communication, decision making, multi-tasking, and prioritizing work to meet customer commitments within budget.

Noca has been an adjunct professor of Mathematics at Northern Illinois University. Noca is a Project Management Institute (PMI) certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and a member of both Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society) and Etta Kappa Nu (Electrical Engineering Honor Society). Noca received her MS in Applied Mathematics with Physics Minor from Northern Illinois University.



jim freeburg

Jim Freeburg

Jim was a Consulting Member of Technical Staff at Alcatel-Lucent, a position that only two percent of staff members achieve, and was the network architect for the Washington, DC Public Safety Network. He also served as a Director where he managed hardware, firmware, and software teams developing products for wireless and a variety of other server and PC based systems. Throughout his career, he has had recurring roles as the project manager for large projects.

Jim was on the faculty for Alcatel-Lucent's Effective Teamwork workshop and led a number of system architecture review teams.

Jim holds an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business, an MS in Physics from Ohio State, a BS in Engineering Physics from the University of Illinois, and completed an MS in Computer Science program at Bell Laboratories.



mark gauldinMark Gauldin

Mark is the president of Evocati, a consulting firm helping companies deal with the challenges of process improvement, growth, globalization, and new product introduction.

Before founding Evocati, Mark served as VP of Engineering at Tekelec, leading R&D teams in the US, India, and Europe, and also led efforts to define and implement cross-functional processes, practices, and governance. At Lucent, he led several process reengineering efforts, achieving breakthroughs in project interval reduction and on-time delivery. He also directed systems engineering and architecture for Lucent's Messaging division, and oversaw operations and strategy for their worldwide Customer Technical Services organization.

Mark holds an MS in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS in Computer Science from Iowa State University and is a graduate of the Executive Development Program at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business.



dennis hansonDennis Hanson

Dennis is a management consultant in the fields of software development, software quality processes, project management, and wireless telecommunications.

Dennis brings extensive management experience from Alcatel-Lucent where, as a Director, he managed several major wireless software development projects including one for which he and team earned a Bell Labs President's Award for innovative processes. He also brings start-up experience from Clarity Communications where he was VP of engineering. This company developed their own products and executed key subcontracted work from major technology companies. Dennis championed best current practices in software quality processes and project management in both of these companies.

Dennis holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University.


Joe Hall  Bio

Joe Hall

Joe is a proven and successful executive focused on program management, services management and business operations utilizing a skill-set that includes customer-focused common-sense leadership, data-driven analytical problem solving and team building. Serving as a Senior Director at Motorola, Joe has extensive experience in the Cellular Carrier and Land Mobile Safety markets both internationally and domestically.  Joe has led geographically diverse teams to develop, establish and operationalize global processes, standards, tools, and metrics that drive efficiency, increase quality and drive cost out of the business.  Joe also has succeeded at directing a team of senior program managers focused on deploying large, complex Land Mobile Radio communications systems throughout the US, led a team of engineers and project managers who respond to the technical needs of cellular carrier customers worldwide and also served as the lead project manager for complex projects in Asia, Latin American and the Middle East.

Joe earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.


Anil Jha  Bio

Anil Jha

Anil has joined SkeensMcDonell as a Principal Consultant/Project Lead.

Anil Jha is the Co-founder of Knowledgenet Technologies Inc., a professional services company doing Wireless Software Integrations and Analytics consulting and training.

Anil was recently the Senior VP of Program Management with Harris Corporation’s Public Safety Division and, prior to Harris, Anil was the VP Americas Wireless Services at Alcatel-Lucent (now Nokia) where he led a large team delivering major projects to Wireless Service Providers. In his 25 years at Bell Labs and the derivative companies, Anil led Data Base Research, Automation, Pricing, Product Management, IT, PMO and Business Operations teams.

Anil holds an MBA from Kellogg Business School at Northwestern University, an MS in Computer Sciences from University of Michigan and a BS in Computer Science and Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. Anil also has earned PMP, CBIP specializing in Business Analytics at Mastery Level, Lean Six Sigma, and Certified Quality Engineer certifications and accreditations.



linwood johnsonLinwood Johnson

Linwood is an experiened telecommunications professional with extensive expertise in product development, product testing, service delivery, project coordination, project & program management, and technical support.

Linwood brings extensive leadership experience from Alcatel-Lucent where he held roles as Project Management Director, Customer Technical Advocate Director, Services Delivery Manager and Services Delivery Director before moving to Goodman Networks as VP of Integration Engineering. In these roles, Linwood was instrumental in multiple network launch projects for tier 1 and tier 2 carriers in support of roll-outs of CDMA/IS-95, EVDO, and UMTS networks.

Linwood has experience with all phases of network deployment, including: site acquisition and construction, new equipment launches, full network deployment, network optimization, post launch and network support.

In addition to a strong technical background, Linwood is certified in Program Management through Stevens Institute. Linwood holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Norfolk State University.



john marioneJohn P. Marione

John Marione has over 35 years in software and telecommunications network development. He was Vice President of development for the Lucent 3G wireless UMTS and IS95 CDMA developments. He also served as Vice President of Engineering for Tellium an optical SONET switch and for Alphion a GPON (Giga Passive Optical Network) systems company. As such, he is experienced in both very large and start-up companies/projects and in leading global R&D teams.

John is particularly adept at assessing project operations and recommending organizational and technical changes which greatly improve a project’s likelihood of successfully meeting its customer and business requirements.

John has a MS in EECS from the University of California Berkeley and a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology.



Russ Norman 4Russ Norman

Russ has over 35 years of experience in Information Technology, most recently being the CIO and one of the owners of AfterMath Claim Science in Warrenville, IL.  AfterMath (now Equian) was a leader in the health insurance cost containment industry where Russ built a talented team and the highly customized systems needed to support this niche industry.

Prior to AfterMath, Russ served in senior I/T management positions at Concentra Preferred Systems and American Stores.  Russ led the technical teams responsible for building a startup pharmacy benefits management company as well as a mail-order pharmacy facility.  Russ began his career working as a Systems Engineer for Motorola.

In addition to his development duties, Russ was responsible for developing policies, controls, and documentation in support of compliance initiatives such as SSAE 16, SAS 70, and Sarbanes Oxley.  All of these initiatives resulted in successful outcomes from independent auditor reviews.

Russ has a BS in computer science from Luther College in Decorah, IA.



Tony PirihTony Pirih

Tony Pirih is a senior executive with nearly 30 years of industry experience leading large global R&D teams for Motorola Inc., developing products in the Public Safety and Cellular communications segments. His assignments included an international assignment leading Product Operations for EMEA. He also led several start-up businesses and championed best practices in product development with emphasis on Quality and cycle time initiatives. Tony has recently led restructuring efforts of business operations with a major Telecom supplier to optimize staffing and R&D investments for the corporations.

Tony has a BSEE degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana and a MSEE from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and holds 3 US patents in the area of RF radio design techniques.



Mark RusinMark Rusin - Lead, Financial Training

At Bell Laboratories and Lucent Technologies Mark has had product management responsibility for various products and led sales teams for major telecommunications customers. Throughout his career, he has also had P&L responsibilities for various product lines and has been a member of the capital expenditure and project business plan review teams. He recently was Executive Director of Sales for the Midwest at Alcatel-Lucent and is currently Director of Business Development at Fox Meter Inc.

He has been an adjunct faculty member at National Louis University, Benedictine University and Concordia for 12 years. He teaches Financial Management, Macroeconomics, Managerial Economics and Managerial Accounting at both the graduate, MBA, and undergraduate level. Mark holds a BSEE from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), an MSEE from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Chicago in Finance and Economics.



diane russell2Diane Russell, PMP

Diane is the principal of DMRussell Consulting, LLC. Prior to founding the company, Diane worked at Bell Laboratories / Alcatel-Lucent for 29 years. As a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff (a level achieved by only 10% of the technical population), Diane developed extensive expertise in the areas of software development, project management, and quality/process management.

After years of honing her technical skills, Diane led a worldwide team in defining and managing the process used by thousands of software developers. She worked across project, functional, and geographic boundaries to deploy a unified process that met best-in-class standards (ISO, CMMI), yet was straightforward and practicable. Diane is adept at synthesizing information quickly, providing good judgment and insight, and enabling the progress of others.

Diane holds an MS degree in Computer Science from North Central College and a BS degree in Computer Science from Northern Illinois University. A strong believer in interdisciplinary education and lifelong learning, Diane also holds an MA degree in Liberal Studies from North Central College. Diane is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute (PMI). She is also the holder of a U.S. Patent.



Jim SappingtonJim Sappington

At McDonald’s, Jim led multiple functions, including full P&L responsibility as VP & Regional Manager of the Northwest Region in the U.S. He served a seven-year run as U.S. CIO and advanced to SVP & Global CIO, and Executive Vice President – Global Operations, Digital & Technology. Over his career, Jim developed and drove an overarching strategy that transformed McDonald’s into a Technology and Digital leader in the QSR industry where technology fueled McDonald’s business growth and operational efficiency.

As part of the CEO’s Senior Leadership Team, Jim helped create and execute the strategic business direction of the company. He led the secure development and deployment of large-scale business solutions on a global basis, spanning 120 countries and over 37,000 restaurants. He oversaw all facets of the global restaurant operations, as well as the digital and technology transformation. In addition, he worked closely with the corporation’s Chief Information Security Officer, who reported directly to him. Working with the Board of Directors, they drove an increased focus on cybersecurity that more proactively managed technology and brand risks.

Jim earned his BSBA in Accounting from University of Missouri – Columbia and MBA with a concentration in Management Information Systems from DePaul University – Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.



lynne sinclairLynne Sinclair

Lynne was formerly a Technical Manager at Alcatel-Lucent and has experience in all phases of the R&D process. She spent much of her 25 year career working in the front end of projects - defining the scope and requirements for CDMA and UMTS wireless systems projects. She also has experience working with International Standards organizations.

Lynne also has extensive development experience and has worked in numerous functional areas including application development, system security, performance management, performance architecture, performance measurements/KPI definition, billing/charging, "design for reliability", packet data services, and software update.

Lynne is a chapter lead for Toastmasters International, an organization which helps its members develop public speaking and communication skills and has achieved strong Communicator and Leadership competencies with that group. Lynne has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a Master’s Degree in Computer Science both from Northern Illinois University.



tom soldiniTom Soldini

Tom Soldini is the founder of Tisbury Advisors, a business consultancy specializing in Operational Excellence and Leadership Development.

Prior to starting the firm, Tom was President of the Maintenance Services Division at Alcatel-Lucent where he led a team of 4,000 people in 60 countries. His earlier career spanned 27 years as a senior operations and sales executive in the telecommunications and services industries. He has extensive global experience in a variety of roles, including four years residing in Asia where he was Vice President and COO of Lucent Technologies – Japan.

Tom earned an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS in Civil Engineering from Rutgers University. He has also studied at INSEAD in France and Singapore, and at the University of Michigan.



dan tell Dan Tell

Dan is the Founder of Tell Solutions Group, LLC, a consulting organization providing engineering and business development services to the wireless industry.

Dan has over thirty years of experience in the Wireless industry and prior to consulting was a Fellow of the Technical Staff at Motorola Mobility, LLC. He has extensive experience in every phase of product development with particular emphasis on requirements and architecture. He has managed large scale development teams as well as served as an individual contributor on numerous projects. Additionally, he has significant expertise in technology strategy and subsequent business development around such strategies.

Dan has a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University. He has been awarded thirteen patents.



jim weberJim Weber, PMP

Jim has over 25 years of experience in the Telecom Industry, designing and developing large access and switching systems at AT&T Bell Labs and Lucent, and later managing teams responsible for network growth and evolution at TDS Telecom, a multi-state service provider. Jim held a variety of functional manager, project manager, and director positions along the way, and gained a good deal of knowledge and experience in what it takes to develop and deploy large systems and projects on time and with high quality.

Jim holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue, an MS in Computer Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and is a PMI certified Project Management Professional (PMP).



Randy WilsonRandy Wilson

Randy is the president of RJWilson Inc., a consulting firm helping companies deal with the challenges of process improvement, growth, sales, and new product introduction. He is also a partner in Leystonstone Investments, LLC, which consults with China based companies trying to enter the US market.

Before founding RJWilson Inc Randy was a technical sales director at Allot Communications, and a technical sales director at Starent Networks. Randy was also a founding partner of Catalyst Services USA, a cell site services company that leveraged technology and processes to deliver a higher quality service on shorter intervals than industry norms.

Randy also spent 24 years working at AT&T Bell Labs, Lucent Technology and Alcatel Lucent. He was Director of the mobile core switching systems engineering team. He also was a sales VP with Lucent Technologies with sales responsibility for Cingular Wireless/AT&T Wireless. At Lucent, he led several process reengineering efforts, achieving breakthroughs in project interval reduction and on-time delivery.

Randy holds MS and Ph. D. degrees from the University of Illinois in Nuclear Engineering, an MBA degree from the University of Chicago, and a BS in Physics and Math from Midland University.



kee yauKee Yau

Kee is Vice President at Advantech International Inc., a consulting firm helping companies with the challenges of process improvement, globalization, new product introduction and best practices for customer support.

Kee brings over 30 years of management experience from Alcatel-Lucent in software development, software quality processes, new product introduction, customer product support, project management, and wireless telecommunications.

Kee holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Ohio Northern University and attended the Indiana University Executive Business Education Program.