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OPSWAT taps Tampa native for key executive role

Brian Hartz

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OPSWAT moved from San Francisco to Tampa in January. Screen grab.

OPSWAT, a cybersecurity firm that moved its corporate headquarters from San Francisco to Tampa earlier this year, has filled the newly created chief operating officer position with Mike Barker, a Tampa native with Silicon Valley experience.

Barker, in an interview with the Catalyst, said he was born and raised in Tampa but has also spent part of his career based in the Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia area. During that time, he would often commute to the west coast but never had the desire to uproot his family from the Tampa Bay region.

“The majority of my career has been with technology-based companies, so being a Tampa native, I always keep my eye out for companies that are either beginning their journey here or moving over to the Tampa area,” he said. “Being local, I’m very well connected in the community as far as technology resources, people and other companies that we could potentially partner with and leverage.”

Mike Barker, COO of OPSWAT, a Tampa cybersecurity firm

Prior to joining OPSWAT, Barker was the COO of Marketopia, a sales and marketing lead generation company based in northern St. Petersburg, but he’s also worked for large, publicly traded firms like Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR). His background also includes a stint as senior vice president of Tampa-based Syniverse.

“I’ve led global sales and marketing teams and go-to-market strategies,” he said. “I’ve been the CIO of a public company. I’ve led global teams for about the last 10-plus years. With OPSWAT, I’m really bringing all that together to focus on operational efficiencies and scaling a global business.”

Barker said he’s impressed at how rapidly OPSWAT has grown since relocating to Tampa. The company’s workforce has risen to 45 and it’s actively recruiting for an additional 30 positions.

“We’d love to recruit local talent to help us fill those positions,” he said.

OPSWAT, Barker added, has carved out a productive lane on the crowded cybersecurity highway by focusing on the protection of clients’ critical infrastructure by eliminating malware and zero-day attacks.

“With the increasing focus on data that’s been happening over the last several years, we feel that we have to address threats at all locations at all times, whether it’s at the entry point, exit or rest,” he said. “We focus on threat prevention and process creation to ensure safe data transfer and device access. Our motto is: ‘Trust no file; trust no device.’ Beginning with that zero-trust mentality, that everything then has to be validated and verified, is absolutely critical.”

OPSWAT’s services have helped it make inroads with financial and government sector clients, Barker said, but “our solution, what we’re doing, is absolutely addressable to all industries.” He said the energy industry is another major source of business and that OPSWAT counts 98 percent of all U.S. nuclear power plant facilities as clients.

“Things like that really help validate what we do,” Barker said.

Another OPSWAT innovation that impressed Barker is OPSWAT Academy, a workforce development program that offers complimentary critical infrastructure protection training for IT professionals who want to transition into the cybersecurity field. It also offers advanced training courses geared toward OPSWAT customers who want to improve their management of OPSWAT products.

Barker himself has completed two OPSWAT Academy courses in the short time he’s been with the company and says continued development of the program is one of his key priorities.

“Both being a user and a member of the executive team — and giving feedback about what it takes to continue to evolve the academy — I can say we’re proud of what we offer out to the industry,” he said. “We’ll continue to invest in the academy; we’re releasing new courses every month for critical infrastructure protection professionals. There’s nothing that exists like this in the market today that focuses on critical infrastructure, which is why we’re so proud of it.”

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