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Robert Berkeley 0:05
Well, hello, and thank you once again for joining me Robert Berkeley for another episode of Inside Jobs, the podcast for in house agencies about in house agency leaders and brought to you by the in house agency forum, or IHAF in partnership with EKCS, who help in house agencies do more through outsource production. Now my guest today, Jen Perry has joined the in house world after a career working for some of the grandest and most dazzling names in the big agency business. Now at Constant Contact, you're applying all lessons learned leading the constant contacts and brilliant creative team. Now, Jen, apparently, first of all, thank you very much for joining me.
Jen Perry 0:44
You're welcome. Happy to be here. Thank you.
Robert Berkeley 0:46
Well, I hope I don't blindside you with the first question, because I understand you started in the agency business pretty young. Is that right?
Yes. At the tender age of 12. Okay, well,
Robert Berkeley 0:57
so you weren't you were recruited by Hill holiday? What happened?
Yes, I became an intern until holiday. No. What happened was I at from a very young age was fascinated by commercials. And I'm not really sure where that fascination came from. But I…I quickly learned that I could make fake parody commercials with new piece of equipment that my grandfather had acquired, which was very exciting at the time. I'm probably dating myself by saying this. But my grandfather had a video camera and nobody else in my family had one. Wow nobodySo do you had one? Nobody had one. So he was the only one. And he would allow me to take it and borrow it and use it to fill my little commercials. And so I would script them out, you know, I would have some sort of a, something resembling a storyboard. And my poor little sister would have to ask them.
Robert Berkeley 1:52
to ask them, How old was your sister?
She is five years younger than I am. Yeah, so when I was 12, she was well, let me see if I could do seven. And she couldn't really say no, you know, and, and she thought I was cool at the time. So she wanted to, you know, anything that big sister wanted to do? She wanted to be a part of it. So
Robert Berkeley 2:12
well, I guess we were gonna find out what happened to you. Is she big in Hollywood now?
Oh, yes. Huge. Yes.
Robert Berkeley 2:19
Good. So you can always say you gave her a leg up to break? Yeah, exactly, exactly. I hope she made the most of it. And he's always appreciative. Well, you're clearly an early starter, but there's just quickly zoom forward to tell our listeners, what do you do now. And we'll then we'll tuck into the deep dive.
Okay, sure. So today, I am the Senior Director of creative at a company called Constant Contact. And it is a tech brand that helps small businesses build their businesses. And so competitors would be things like MailChimp or Klaviyo. And so it's a it's a digital marketing platform that small businesses use to promote their businesses. So they can send emails, they can post to social, they can create social ads, they can create Google ads, they can manage their customer relationships and their data about their customers. And so it's a really neat platform. And it's expanding all the time and adding new tools and new features, like SMS, for example. And so it's been really cool to see over the past four years, how the brand has grown, and how it's changed and the different features that have been added to the product and how the customers are reacting to those features and using those features. And so right now, I have an internal creative team. We are today there are 17 roles on the team to open Rex. So we're looking for, we're looking for designers PSA we need. But yeah, that's grown from when I first kind of took the helm of the Constant Contact creative team. I think there was a handful of people, let's say five. And so it's grown a lot since then, and changed a lot since then.
Robert Berkeley 4:00
Okay, well, that's let's come back to that. But I think you're being far too modest about Constant Contact. I'd be amazed if any listeners don't know what Constant Contact is. It's been around I think, since 95. Is that? Yes. Yep. So let's go back when you were 12, where exactly were you? And what were the ads that were inspiring you so much.
Well, I was in New Hampshire. So right off the bat, you know, I grew up in a small town, there's not much, you know, not much glamour going on there. And so I was always fascinated by the world have sort of television production and you know, shiny magazines with you know, these beautiful photos of these famous people and and the whole world of, you know, commercials. How would How did they get made? Where did they come from? There's obviously somebody in this world that made these ads that I'm seeing every day. I didn't know much about the industry at all. Obviously, I was 12.
Robert Berkeley 4:55
Your parent your parents weren't from the business. They were
not they my mom is a special ed teacher. are for, you know, 3030 plus years. And my father. He was a corporate recruiter for a long time, but not in this industry. So they neither one of them had any connection to this industry at all. And so yeah, I honestly couldn't tell you what fascinated me about it so much. But I think it's just that I was always a creative kid. I always liked I liked making things. I was always a person that was making things and tinkering. Let's say I was 10. So a little bit before the little bit before the beginning of my ad career. I was an inventor.
Robert Berkeley 5:34
I was I was an entrepreneur. I was in a vendor.
Robert Berkeley 5:38
Can you remember any of your inventions, though? Oh, yes.
Oh, yes. So I one thing that I did with my father at a young age, he helped me to do to create these inventions. So I was part of something called the Invention Convention at my school. And this was in middle school. And I participated, I think about three years in a row.
Robert Berkeley 6:02
And I am waiting for the invention that's like, come on, there's so
Well, the thing is, is these inventions exist today, so I was clearly on to something. So I think the first one was, it was some sort of cover for your bike seat that lived inside the bike seat like underneath, and you would you would pull it out and put it over the top of your whole bike. So that was that was I think the first one then there was a I don't know how to describe this a toothpaste tube, like squeezing device. Oh,
Robert Berkeley 6:30
Yeah. Yeah. So I built that. And then the other one was an automated cat litter box cleaner, which again, exists today?
Robert Berkeley 6:41
Well, I haven't got cats, but I know people with them. And they could definitely benefit from those too. So it's, it's just, it's a tragedy, really, I mean, your career has been stellar. But goodness may have how different it could have been, you know, you're helping shoulders with Steve Jobs, and Elon, and all the rest of them. But but you clearly had this fixation about advertising and the glamour of advertising, which we all know it's ever present in our lives. And you, you went on into the industry for some years, what was the bit in between? Did you go in? How did you study to get into advertising? What which path did you take? Yeah, so
Yeah, so I still wasn't 100%? Sure, you know, as any 18 year old, I don't think, you know, I don't think a lot of them are 100% sure what they want to do. And so I knew I wanted to do something within the sort of creative, or communications world or marketing world are, you know, at the time, I was still really into magazine, so I had it in my head that maybe I would be an editor. So I wasn't 100% Sure. So I went, you know, into the classic communications major, which is, you know, very broad. And so that way, you know, I could sort of dabble in all different aspects of sort of a communications major and what that entailed. And so I went to Ithaca College in upstate New York, I went to the park School of Communications, which is a very well known communications school and kind of exploring what I wanted to do. So I think it was sophomore or junior year of college, just on a whim, I took an advertising concepting course. And so the whole course was about, you know, coming up with ideas for ads, and creating those ads, and then presenting the ads to the team to the team, the class and getting their feedback. And right off the bat, you know, from probably the very first assignment, I realised that this is what I should be doing, I just really gravitated towards it. I loved being in the class, it was so much fun coming up with ideas. And you know, I'm not an art director, I, you know, I have a copywriter background, but I really enjoyed coming up with ideas. I think that's really what it comes down to is I realised that I am a person who should be coming up with ideas, that is what I like to do. And I found a way to do that in my career. And so from there, I made the decision that I want to go into advertising as a creative. And so that's kind of I started researching what that meant, and what that entailed. And very soon realise that many people go to these very expensive portfolio schools after undergrad and I I'm, you know, I'm from New Hampshire, I'm not from you know, I'm not from a very well to do background. I knew that I could not afford to go to grad school after undergrad. My whole plan was always you know, get a job right after undergrad, don't move home, you know, move to New York City immediately, and get a job. That's kind of what my plan was.
Robert Berkeley 9:28
Oh, get a job. You did. And it's it's fascinating to see the names you just you were at low. Yeah Yep. Then then Deutsche BBDO Yeah, why No. Arnold MullenLowe. Hill holiday I mean, that's that's quite a a lineup.
Yeah, made the rounds. Yeah. You definitely
Robert Berkeley 9:51
You definitely made the rounds. But clearly you learn something from all of them. And you worked with some fabulous brands, I think.
Absolutely. Yeah. So and I you know, I also really I was proud of myself for sort of the way that I built my career because I didn't go to one of these ad schools. So I had to figure out a way to get my foot in the door somewhere like an apprenticeship almost. Exactly, exactly. So I became a creative assistant at low New York, which is now MullenLowe.
Robert Berkeley 10:16
Hall to get the job. Did you have to really banging on doors a lot to get the job? Or was or not college help? Or I mean, how did that come about? Because getting that first foothold can sometimes be quite hard.
It can be for sure. And I think because I, you know, had the had the background I did. And I was just so tenacious about it, I I knew that I had to get my foot in the door, somehow, I was looking at all different kinds of ways to do so even jobs that were not in the creative department, but just in an agency, you know, just at some sort of assistant job. And so I happened upon this, I applied to the job. And this was before I had even graduated college. And so I was taking the bus, which was about a five hour bus ride, I was taking the bus from Ithaca, New York down to New York City several times to interview. So five hours there and back, because I had it in my head that I have to secure a job before I graduate so that I don't have to move home. I just really wanted to go directly to New York and you know, start my adult life. And so yeah, so I think that's, that's why I ended up you know, landing that job was really just my my tenacity, I I was not going to give up, I was going to secure a job before I graduated. So
Robert Berkeley 11:25
well, you indicated that to me, when we when we spoke earlier that this was fascinating life very creative, working with some extremely creative people on some fabulous brands. But it gave you a fairly one dimensional view of marketing and advertising. The advertising side, so So tell us about the movie made, what, four or four years ago or so now, where you actually left and stepped into the in house agency world? How did that come about?
So yeah, so four years ago, well, four and a half years ago, I had my first child, so I have a daughter. And you know, with that came a lot of kind of soul searching about the agency life and you know, pitching and weekends and late nights and all the stress. And I had started to see this trend of really talented people starting to go in house. I don't know if you remember. But, you know, years ago, it used to be this, this kind of stigma, where it's like, oh, in houses where you go, you know, where, where your career goes to die that, you know, that was kind of what everybody just said about going in house, right? So there was a big, there was a lot of stigma around it. And so I had never really necessarily considered that as an option for me. But then I started to see a change. And I started to see, you know, really talented people go and work directly for brands. And I became really intrigued by that and said, Well, you know, if they can do it, why not me? And so I started researching it more, I started, you know, reading articles about people that had gone from agency to in house, and just, you know,
Robert Berkeley 12:57
kind of one come to mind any particular ones that come to mind in house agencies that you were intrigued by? Well, you know,
Well, you know, if you look at, if you look at brands like Squarespace, Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, Google, Facebook, they all have in house agencies at this point, you know, and so some really prestigious leaders have gone and now work in house. Like for example, and I don't know if I'm pronouncing his name, right, so I'm sorry, if I'm not, but Tor Miran, he is now a VP of Marketing at Apple. And he used to be, you know, a really prestigious creative agency leader. And so that's just one example that comes to mind. But there are so many different people, you know, that I've seen over the past, let's say five years, going in house. And so, so around that time, but four years ago, it really just kind of got me thinking that, you know, this may be a real option for me, how do I do it? You know, because everyone I know, is an agency person, every recruiter I know, is an agency recruiter. So how do I do this? And tThat was the part that I didn't really have a lot of answers for. And I think now today for for some odd years later, there are a lot more options for people like me, who were sort of this agency person that had no idea how to go in house. I think there's
Robert Berkeley 14:17
just knew you wanted to you felt that that would give you a better quality of life, having read everything that you did. So how did specifically Constant Contact come along them?
I believe that our recruiter reached out to me about the job. So at the time constant contact was owned by a larger company called endurance. And no, you know, I had never heard of endurance, you know, that's, oh, it's a weird name. It's in the suburbs. I don't know anything about it it at the time, endurance owned Constant Contact and several other tech brands. Right. And so the job that I had seen posted was for endurance to come out and be a creative director. And I think a recruiter reached out to me, you always take the call, right? Like at least that's that's kind of the way that I look at it, as always take the call, you know, were
Robert Berkeley 15:02
Were you in the market at this point? Had you spoken to recruitment agencies or they just call you?
Well, no, I I started looking around when, you know, at the beginning of that year, so kind of I came back from maternity leave, and kind of immediately started exploring my options. So this happened quite quickly. Right, right, exactly. And so at the time, this is what's really interesting is, you know, what I went and I interviewed and I talked to people, and it was actually, it was a first I was like, What is this company? I've never heard of endurance, you know, it's in the suburbs. I went in the office was was really nice. It kind of looked like an ad agency. You know, it was all open and, you know, exposed beams and all this. It was cool. You know, it was a cool office. Yeah. And so that made me feel better about it. And, you know, I met, I met with a bunch of different people, I really liked them. And so that was all very encouraging. But I had a couple of other options too at the time, right. And so I had been interviewing at other in house with other in house creative groups. So I actually turn this job down, at first. And then they reached back out to me, I think it was like a couple weeks later or a month later, and said, hey, you know, would you reconsider this? We've changed XYZ about the job. And so I said, Yeah, sure. You know, I'll talk to I'll talk to you again. And I did and I kind of reengaged with them, and ended up taking the job.
Robert Berkeley 16:24
And this was this was to do content, right. Am I Am I right? That was your first job. It wasn't it wasn't to run an enhanced agency. This was
no, it wasn't? No, it wasn't to do content. But it was it was to be a creative director across all four of those brands that endurance owned Constant Contact being one of them.
Robert Berkeley 16:41
So yeah, okay. Yeah. So Bluehost, Hostgator and domain.com.
Right. Exactly, exactly. And so at the time, the way that the creative team was set up was sort of enterprise level where it was across everything. Yeah. And so then endurance was acquired about a year ago, and so things change, then.
Robert Berkeley 16:59
Okay, so, so tell us how that has evolved, then over the years. And then and then let's dive a little bit into what the in house operation is that you've gotten how, okay,
Okay, so about a year after I joined, I was still working across, you know, Constant Contact and other tech brands, the CMO at the time had decided that he wanted a creative leader to be allocated specifically to each brand. And so at that point, the VP of brand and creative at the time assigned me to Constant Contact, which was the biggest brand that we had, it was, you know, the most lucrative, and I believe had the biggest team, or at least, you know, it was the same size team as Bluehost. And the other two had, you know, smaller teams. And at the time, I think it was about five people, when I kind of took the helm of the Constant Contact creative team. So from there, that was, I think that was in 2019. Yep, that I kind of took over as the leader of the Constant Contact team,
Robert Berkeley 17:52
More with the overarching mission that you were given, then, was there like a long term strategy? Or is this purely a tactical thing that, that, you know, kind of respond to marketing requirements type thing,
I think it was just a tactical, you know, the CMO at the time wanted people to be really entrenched in all aspects of the brand, which at the time, I was sort of iffy on because, you know, again, coming in as an agency creative, you're used to working on tonnes of different brands all at one time. And that's kind of part of the that's part of the appeal, I guess, of agency life, is that you get to learn a bunch of different brands, and you get to, you know, speak in different brand voices. And, you know, there's, it's just a lot more variety. And so that was kind of doing
Robert Berkeley 18:36
very specific things for many brands. But your opportunity here, I guess, to do many things for a specific
Exactly. So it's just it's a flip and flip. You know, at the time, I wasn't 100% sold on the idea, to be honest. But now
Robert Berkeley 18:51
I have one one foot kind of halfway back out looking at the market again. No, no,
No, no, not looking at the market again. But just you know, I wasn't I wasn't sold that I wanted to only focus on one brand. Yeah, interesting. Yeah. But now I really actually like that a lot.
Robert Berkeley 19:07
Because what will convinced you Yeah, go ahead. Yeah, because
Because I'm involved in every single consumer touchpoint for the brand. So you know, off the top of my head, I know what's going on in email, I know what's going on in front of site, I know what's going on in social. I know what's going on in video on YouTube, on TV on Rradio. So, you know, right off the top of my head, I am involved in every single thing that I just listed plus a lot more. And so it gives me a sense of ownership over the brand in a way that I hadn't had previously. And gives me a chance to connect the dots across all of those touch points, because I think one of the problems at the time, and that's probably one of the motivations that the CMO had one of the problems at the time was that things felt disjointed. They felt disconnected or you know, teams were working on one project over here, but then over here and another channel, there's another team doing a project that they is in no way connected to, you know, that other teams project. So I think one of the goals was to kind of bring everything together and not have everything feel disjointed and make sure that everybody is, you know, saying the same things no matter if you're talking about the brand in an email, or you're talking about it on front of site, or you're in a video, etc.
Robert Berkeley 20:18
Right. So bad brand continuity, which I guess is obviously what everyone's trying to achieve. And the simple answer was get the same person responsible across the across the whole story. Exactly. So you have a relatively small team compared to others. Think you said 17? With a couple of open positions? Yes. How on earth? Can you manage to handle all of that spread of work? And I presume what are we just talking North America? Are we talking UK as well? Because I know your markets International?
Yeah, we do market internationally. But yes, my primary focus is North America. Yeah.
Robert Berkeley 20:50
So how on earth do you manage all of this stuff? With with it with a handful of people that you have? That is a
That is a great question.
Robert Berkeley 20:59
I think that's probably what it is. Well, yeah, ordinary super people we do,
we do have some amazing people, I will say, but I think too, you know, one of the things that I have learned a tonne about since I came brand side is operations. So that is something that they do not teach you as an agency creative at all. So, you know, there was a huge learning curve there. But now, you know, I, I have, you know, I'm very well versed in making recommendations on things like staffing and budgets and timelines, you know, so I'm able to kind of look out, you know, on a lookout across the horizon and see what's coming and put a plan in place to be able to attack that because, you know, you're right, I do have a small team, and the volume of work has increased a tonne. You know, so we have to have plans in place for how we're going to handle that. So, you know,
Robert Berkeley 21:50
but what are your plans? Okay. I mean, not at a highest level, what are the plans? They don't need to be specific, but I'm curious, how do you manage it?
Well, there are certain things that we have to outsource, you know, and so we outsource things, and we oversee them. So you know, it's my job and the job of my head of operations, who I work very closely with, it's our job to work together to decide, you know, what should our team what should our core team handle? And what can we outsource and have them sort of oversee? So for example, you know, high volume, digital display, right? So you could do something where your team sets up the creative, and then you outsource all of the, you know, hundreds of different sizes that need to be created and animated and things like that. So that's just one example.
Robert Berkeley 22:34
So it's focusing on the creative is your strategy, then it's focused on the creative. And then the the kind of rote work that comes out of that is, is what you'd be prepared to outsource.
Right, exactly. That's the goal. Yeah. And so that's, that's something that we're working on right now. Because Constant Contact acquired another company in fall of last year. And so that company, we're tasked now with sort of folding into constant contact. And so that comes with a whole other, you know, bucket of work that we've got to figure out how to how to, you know, how to get it done this year. And then we're also working on kind of a brand visual refresh and messaging refresh as well. So that's okay. With your team. Right. So again, that's another situation where we'll probably bring in some external, you know, writing and design resources, and our team will oversee that. Right.
Robert Berkeley 23:31
Wow. Okay. So, in terms of the way you work with the, with the business and the marketers, you did you just we've touched on this a couple of times, but you are learning a lot more about kind of what lies behind the agency world, you're much more involved in marketing than you were before. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Yes, it is definitely very eye opening, coming into a brand, all those
Robert Berkeley 23:55
all those terrible things you said about your customers years ago, you now know why they did what they do.
Right? Yeah. You know, that's true, though. That's true. You know, one thing that I've Well, one of the many things I've learned in this role, is that clients are just people, they're just people that are dealing with a lot more than just your ad that you're, you know, meeting about just a small
Robert Berkeley 24:17
part. Right? Yeah, that's it.
And so it's really it has been very eye opening for me. And, you know, to be honest, I was kind of a fish out of water at first. It's, it's a big leap to go from, you know, creativity and advertising is your whole world all day every day. And the whole company is structured around that. Right? So everything about an agency is is about you know, creativity and advertising. And then you walk into this, you know, brand, and you realise that that's just one tiny little piece of the day to day and you know, you are you are somewhat a fish out of water and you're interacting with people who have absolutely nothing to do with what you do, which is, you know, at first, it is a little, you know, kind of throws you off balance, right. So it's a lot to get used to when you spent your whole life, you know, at these big ad agencies, but I definitely, I feel like it's been amazingly educational for me, I've learned a tonne about marketing. And I find it really fascinating because marketing is, it's so much bigger than advertising. It's from anything from you know, pricing and packaging, to, you know, how you're presenting the brand at events, to things like, you know, to things that I honestly had not touch the entire time, I've worked in an agency, like emails, I had not written a single email, the entire time, I worked at ad agencies, which was 15-16 years, you know, so there are different channels that I've learned about, and you know, different ways that marketing influences a brand that you may not even realise is marketing. You know,
Robert Berkeley 25:58
well, it sounds like we should whisper this, but it's given you, shall we say, a new respect for marketing?
That is absolutely true. It really is. And, you know, and I tell my team that all the time that the reason why, the reason why we came brand side in the first place is because we don't want to think of it as servicing clients, we want to think of it as partnering with marketers. And if there's a big difference, you know, they are our partners, they are our coworkers, we are all working to make one brand succeed. It matters just as much to me, as it matters to anybody else, you know, because we, I don't work for an a separate company. I work for the same company, as all the marketers do.
Robert Berkeley 26:43
And do they have to come to you for creative? Or are you part of the mix for them in terms of external creative agencies. And so they pretty
they pretty much come any creative pretty much comes through my team. So even if it's being outsourced, my team is overseeing it. And so make
Robert Berkeley 26:58
Make that easy for marketers, they don't have to worry about managing any externals, because you just take care of that for them.
Right, right. And we're in the process of trying to, you know, fold in some of the external work that was being done by the, you know, company that we just acquired, like I mentioned. So there's, you know, there's, there's a lot of process and stuff like that, that we're still working out. But yes, that is the general way that we, you know, the way that we view creative is, you know, everything should come through my team, whether it is being outsourced, or whether it's being done in house that way, just like you said earlier, that way, it ensures brand consistency. And that's something that we're really working hard on right now at constant contact is making sure that the messaging feels super consistent and tight, no matter, you know, what touchpoint you're seeing, and no matter what channel, you're, you know, looking at an ad or an email, or whatever at all, it should all feel very consistent, it should feel like the same brand voice and kind of the same general messaging, and the same look and feel
Robert Berkeley 27:58
like definitely wasting money. If you're not doing that you're wasting money.
It sounds very basic, but it's, you know, it's not easy, sometimes, it's not
Robert Berkeley 28:05
it's not easy, and you see it all the time, you can see it on the supermarket shelf, sometimes with the same brands representing itself with slightly different shades of red or whatever. So even, you know, in a very basic level, it's gotten wrong a lot. Is there any ambition for you at the moment? Is there any ambition left? You've done so much? And, you know, I have to say you're not that old? So? Um,
Um, well, that's a great question. You know, I think there's still a tonne of work to be done here. And, you know, with my team, and with this brand, we are, you know, embarking, as I said, on sort of a visual and messaging refresh, which that is a tonne of work. And so, you know, my team definitely will have their work cut out for them for the rest of this year and beyond. So, that's a big deal, for sure. And like I said, Constant Contact is always adding new capabilities and new tools that you know, naturally need new brand messaging to go along with them. So there's no shortage of work to be done.
Robert Berkeley 29:05
That's fantastic. So so it's been amazing hearing your journey there, Jen. If people want to reach out and have a chat with you or learn more about what you're doing, what's the best way for them to do that?
Sure. Yeah. Anybody can feel free to email me. I think my email is Jennifer Perry, or my my mom is the only person that calls me Jennifer. But my email is firstname.lastname@example.orgJennifer dot Perry at constant contact.com. And our team, I can do a little plug here to our team actually has a team Instagram page. That's really fun. So I believe that is I believe the handle is CT, CT creative and so you could get a little glimpse into what it's like to be a part of our internal creative team. We do have a lot of fun. I will say
Robert Berkeley 29:49
absolutely. Well, I'm glad to hear it. And I want to thank you so much for your time on this interview and telling us about your journey towards the appreciation of marketers apart from anything else. I want to, I want to thank our fabulous partners I have and my team at EKGs for the marvellous production and editing support for this podcast and all the other stuff they do. If you've not come across the inside jobs podcast before and very warm welcome, check out the website at IJ podcast.com. And see the ever expanding back catalogue of episodes to which we now add proudly Jen parry Constant Contact. If you have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to drop a comment there or you can sign up to the very intermittent ij newsletter. I try and reply to each email and each LinkedIn cons contact as they come. So please drop me a line there. Tell me what you think of the podcast. Jen, once again, thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you so much. It's been a lot of fun.
Robert Berkeley 30:47
Now, just before airing this episode, Jen got in touch with us to let us know that she's moving on now from constant contact. We wish her well and we know that she's sure to carry on her enthusiasm and advocacy for the in house model. Good luck, Jen.