About Fifth Element

Fifth Element Associates is an experienced and results-driven consulting team whose sole focus is to help you grow your business. We don’t achieve these results by cutting costs or improving efficiency. Rather, Fifth Element works the other side of the equation, strengthening your organization by improving and increasing your customer relationships, employee engagement, solutions, and value.

Our approach is comprehensive and collaborative. We use research and assessment methods to understand and evaluate your current programs, strategies, gaps, and opportunities. Then, we create and implement custom leadership, sales and marketing programs, improve your value proposition, and strengthen customer relationships.

Unlike other consulting firms, we are with you every step of the way—not simply giving advice and moving on, but working with you to implement new programs and initiatives and then measuring and refining their effectiveness.

We are Fifth Element and we might be just what you need.

Meet Our Team

joe-background“Every business needs a unique and compelling value proposition in order to differentiate itself in the minds and hearts of its customers. Otherwise, it becomes just another ‘me too’ player selling on price.”

Joe Candido is the founder of Fifth Element Associates and co-founder of the Executive Crash Course Company. He has worked in the IT and telecom industries for over 30 years where he’s held positions within a variety of companies as VP of Sales and Marketing, Director of Sales, VP of Innovation, and Member of Technical Staff.

Joe delivers targeted consulting and training engagements with companies and organizations locally and throughout North America, Latin America and Europe. He consults with executives to provide leadership development, industry trends, insights, and strategy development which he implements through training, consulting, and coaching for sales, marketing, engineering, and customer service organizations.

Joe believes in order to succeed every business must provide value that goes beyond their products or services. Sustained growth is only achieved when leadership, culture, vision, values, brand, and sales strategy align to create a customer experience that truly differentiates. Working in collaboration with his clients,  Joe leverages his technical, industry, sales, marketing and leadership expertise to develop vision, strategy, positioning, differentiation, and a compelling story. He often works in the field with his customer’s sales and customer service teams to drive behavior change and improved results.

In addition to consulting and training,  Joe teaches executive leadership programs at the University of Vermont’s Center of Leadership and Innovation and the Grossman School of Business SEMBA MBA program, and the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. He’s been a guest speaker at Wharton’s Executive Education program and is a frequent keynote speaker on trends, market implications, customer experience, and sales insights at industry associations, national sales conferences, and trade shows.  Joe has vertical market expertise in: telecom, IT, banking and finance, manufacturing, e-commerce, and health care.

A good day is when he can’t tell the difference between his work and his play, or his friends and his associates. If Joe’s not with his clients, he can usually be found sailing on Lake Champlain in the summer and in the winter he’s either sailing in the Caribbean or skiing the mountains of Vermont.


“Too many organizations operate on assumptions and opinions, making critical decisions without proper data or insights. Today research, big data, and analytics are essential to decision making.”

Jim Fong has nearly three decades of research experience related to marketing, new product development, customer satisfaction and acquisition and strategy development.  He has extensive experience in education, banking, technology, telecommunications, community development, gaming and healthcare sectors.  Prior to joining FEA, Jim has served as director of marketing, research and planning for a major university and director of research for a advertising and marketing firm.  He has also taught marketing, strategy and research courses for Penn State University, Duquesne University, Drexel University, Framingham State University, University of California Davis, Community College of Vermont and the University of Vermont.

Jim holds a B.S. in mathematics, M.S. in statistics and an M.B.A. from the University of Vermont.  He is also an avid “bikepacker” and cyclist when not nerding out on fantasy sports.

SDSBW_001-background“Change is the only constant. Each business must constantly monitor, understand, and adapt to the trends and drivers in their world. The most important contribution an executive can make to their organization is to create a vision, strategy, and culture that anticipates the market and responds with a customer experience that ensures greater relevance.”

As an associate Consultant at Fifth Element Associates, the Founder of the Shepard Communications Group, and Co-Founder of the Executive Crash Course Company Steve Shepard has over 30 years of experience in telecom, media, technology, and business consulting and is recognized as an industry authority and author who has spoken in more than 90 countries. To date, Steven has written more than 60 books, hundreds of white papers, and has produced a large number of podcasts and videos. He works closely with senior management in several Fortune 100 companies, NGOs, and Universities, advising them on technology industry trends and then helping them develop strategy.

Closely related to Steve’s work in technology strategy is his work in education, particularly around vision development and multigenerational learning theory. His book, Reverse Engineering the Future: A Prescription for Change Leadership, is derived from experiences accumulated while consulting with university boards of trustees and corporate boards of directors. This approach combines educational best practices, vision development and generational theory, all of which are crucial for effective long-term planning and relevance assurance.

Steve is a senior fellow of the Da Vinci Institute of South Africa, Adjunct Professor in the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, a Founding Director of the African Telecoms Institute, a member of the Communications and Creative Media Advisory Council, and an emeritus member of the Board of Trustees of Champlain College. He is also the Resident Director of the University of Southern California’s Executive Leadership and Advanced Management Programs and adjunct at Thunderbird University, the University of Vermont, Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, Champlain College, and St. Michael’s College.

all-photos-1444-of-1539“At the end of the day, no organization will enjoy sustained success without a recognition of and commitment to its people.”

Nina Candido is a seasoned Talent, Organizational, and Leadership Development Professional with over 20 years of experience in diverse industries facilitating individual and organizational transformation.  Her approach aligns organizational goals with business processes to develop integrative programs and structures that foster growth at all levels.

Nina’s success in business operations management early in her career provide her with an impressive breadth and depth of knowledge and experience in navigating the challenges and conflicting priorities that can exist between individual and organizational goals.  Nina’s insights lead to the design of practical, people-centric solutions that drive organizational and financial performance improvements.

Nina’s graduate studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations have augmented her business experience.  She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and a Six Sigma Black Belt.

Nina resides on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.


Our beloved partner and dear friend Glenn passed on August 26, 2019, of cholangiocarcinoma. He was a brilliant quantitive researcher and marketing strategist. Glenn was one of the hardest working, most dedicated and smartest people we have ever know. He was a joy and inspiration to work with and we at FEA are all so much better because of him. His influence with us, his clients, community and family will live on and on. His bio reminds us of his passion for research, helping his clients, and making his community better. Thank you Glenn. 



“Pglennlanning is a tactical process; it’s about the Who, What, Where, and When. Strategy is a deliberative process; it examines the How and Why. The reason most managers have ten years of partially met ’Strategic Plans,’ all with great ideas, gathering dust on their shelves is that they are only tactical documents. Strategy and Planning are fundamentally different functions.”

Glenn Ravdin has more than 30 years of experience in many sectors, including Education, Health Care, Tourism, Parks/Forests and Heritage Areas, Dairy, Financial Services, Wood Products, Manufacturing, Retail, Private Label, Non Profit, Professional Services, and Government. For 22 years, Glenn was Marketing Director, VP Marketing and Senior VP Marketing for a full-service marketing agency where he provided clients with a range of marketing services.

Glenn’s expertise is in quantitative market research; branding, brand research and analysis; strategic development; and the formation of internal marketing structures needed to support external marketing.

As a seasoned professional, Glenn has helped launch start-ups, put stagnant organizations back on the growth path, helped weakened institutions regain their strength, and shown mature companies how to re-energize their markets.

Glenn is a sailor whose children prefer motorboats, a tool collector masquerading as a woodworker, a political junkie, and a vinyl LP enthusiast who refuses (on principle) to replace a 60-year collection just to go digital. He lives in the Vermont “Islands” with his wife, two children, two dogs, and more squirrels than anyone thought could possibly live on 20 acres.

MRA (Market Research Association) 1998- present, PRC “expert” certified