From Fivers: Innovation, Impact, Purpose, People

Shift5 was co-founded in 2019 by two of the founding members of U.S. Army Cyber Command. While in uniform, Josh Lospinoso gained first-hand exposure to the evolving tactics and techniques of global adversaries, while gaining invaluable hands-on experience with military weapon systems. During this time, Josh conducted testing and quickly understood the need to fortify the military vehicles and weapon systems that the Department of Defense (DoD) relies on to uphold national security.

→ What he saw: Hundreds of computers operate weapon systems. Every platform function – from vehicle power and GPS, to steering and takeoff – is powered by rudimentary computers connected by networks that are open by design and lack traditional cybersecurity fortification.

→ What he knew: Military vehicles and weapon systems have a long lifespan, are critical to national security, cost millions of dollars to manufacture and take years to build, are used in highly contested geographies, and must meet DoD readiness requirements.

→ What he asked: How secure are the platforms the United States relies on as critical infrastructure? The cybersecurity industry spent decades fortifying the information technology (IT) systems, why not operational technology (OT) systems that keep weapon systems running? 

A 2018 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued a clear call to improve security for weapon systems, compelling Josh to exit the military with a mission to build a company to help  keep the DoD and U.S. critical infrastructure secure against evolving threats.

Today, Shift5 is charting a path to empower owners and operators with observability into their onboard data to answer questions about the operational and cybersecurity health of their fleet assets. 

Aerospace, rail, maritime, and military platforms use the same serial buses and protocols to run at maximum uptime. The components using these networks generate massive volumes of data, so vast as to be unusable without machine learning (ML) to decode regular and anomalous behavior. Shift5 enables operators to observe, collect, analyze, and take action on the OT data produced by vehicles and fleets. In building an observability platform for operators, Shift5 is working towards its vision to help to build a safer, more stable world.

This vision has helped the company grow since its founding. Today, Fivers work at Shift5 for many reasons:

  1. Cutting Edge Innovation: Shift5 is a first-mover in an incredibly complex and critical industry. Building an observability platform for infrastructure that moves requires specialized domain knowledge, experience, and tenacity. Each member of the Shift5 team, from hardware and field engineering, to product, sales, and marketing has deep motivation to tackle a difficult challenge. Shift5 brought a novel concept into a reality, and is embedding that technology within critical infrastructure.

    As Shift5’s Buyer & Supply Chain Specialist Rokhaya Mane explained, “Shift5 is building innovative technology from the ground up, creating products that haven’t existed, that are brand new to the market, to create an immediate impact.”

    Shift5’s mission brings mission-oriented people to the company; those motivated by a challenge and a desire to make an impact. According to Ronak Shah, Senior Director of Research, “if Shift5 was solving the same kind of problems that have already been solved in the industry, a lot of us probably wouldn’t be here. We’re excited by a challenge that the industry has written off, yet is increasingly critical to solve. We’re excited by the unknown, carving out the path, and looking where others may not have looked.”

  1. Meaningful Impact: Fivers are not only building complex software and specialized hardware, their work has real-world impact. Shift5’s vision is bigger than the company: ensuring the safety and stability of critical infrastructure. The public at large relies upon commercial rail, maritime, and aviation industries to scaffold the supply chain. Billions of dollars in freight and passenger traffic are generated in these industries yearly, and the U.S. military defends our national security in an ever-evolving geopolitical landscape.

    Ronak added, “We’re in an industry that’s not really well defined, and we’re the first ones wrapping our arms around it to define it. Shift5 is solving problems designed to keep our military and civilian transportation infrastructure safe. A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to touch things at the magnitude we do. There’s just not that many people who get to work on the cyber-physical — taking traditional computer skills and applying them to the physical world.”

  1. Sense of Purpose: For Fivers, the intersection of building novel technology and making an impact introduces a sense of purpose. Fivers are changing the world at a deep, infrastructural level. Each team accomplishes Shift5’s mission to empower customers to make smarter, faster decisions based on real-time data that underpins the security, availability, safety, and resilience of critical defense, aerospace, maritime, space, and rail fleets.

    Shift5’s Buyer & Supply Chain Specialist Rokhaya Mane described this experience.  “What I do matters here. I want my talent and expertise to be used where it makes a difference. I don’t want to work just to work. I don’t want a nine to five. I want a purpose tied into my career. Working at Shift5 is one way I am contributing to something bigger than myself.” 
  1. The People: Solving hard problems takes tenacity, deep domain knowledge, and excellent communication skills. As a company with a dual-use platform in highly regulated spaces, Fivers must be creative, mission-focused, and industry experts.

    Brooks Hester, Technical Operations Engineer said it best:  “the people at Shift5 are unmatched – good people, extremely intelligent, and great at solving hard problems. The work we do is extremely challenging and at the same time, rewarding.”

    He continues, “Shift5 represents a mix of government and civilian worlds. Our leadership has high-caliber military backgrounds. They understand the problem firsthand. And they’ve blended that experience with deep technologists from the private sector. When you combine these two worldviews, you’ve got the people and teams that really understand the problem we need to solve, and solve it. Shift5 is unique and I can’t think of many other companies in the same position we’re in that blend the best of both worlds.”

    Shift5’s Director of Information Security & Risk Management, Nikki Sewell, shares the sentiment. “The number one reason why I love working at Shift5 is the people. Every day I am amazed at the amount of talent at this company. Not only are the employees wicked smart, they are dedicated to the mission, hardworking, and problem solvers.”

Shift5’s vision to build a safer, more stable world is happening every single day. Each Fiver contributes to making this vision a reality, and it begins with building an observability platform that enables operators with their OT data. If you’re interested in learning more about a career at Shift5, visit our careers page and follow along with our growth on our LinkedIn page.