Gerry Crispin, in an interview with peopleHum on Talent Management: Key to success

About Gerry Crispin

Gerry Crispin is the principal and founder of CareerXRoads, a premier talent community, for recruiting and HR professionals. He is also the author of the book, “Career crossroads: The Directory to Job, Resume and Career Management Sites on the Web”. A humble professional who refers to himself as a passionate student of hiring, a renowned keynote speaker who brings with him a lot of experience.

Talent Management: Key to success - Gerry Crispin [Interview]

Aishwarya Jain

We have the pleasure of welcoming Gerry Crispin today to our interview series. I’m Aishwarya Jain from the peopleHum team. Before we begin, just a quick introduction of peopleHum –  peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work. We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.

Aishwarya

Welcome Gerry, we’re thrilled to have you!

Gerry

Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. I would say that in your intro, you mentioned a couple of the books that I have written. I actually wrote eight books, but I wrote them so long ago. They probably are a bit out of date, so I wouldn’t want to suggest that any of your listeners go looking for them. You find them on eBay or Amazon and, yeah, they’re a bit old. But it was an early time on the Internet when I was fortunate enough to be able to start talking about how that might impact recruiting in the future. And so that’s kind of how I got my start many years ago. 

Aishwarya

I see. I see.

And if you could tell us a little bit about CareerXRoads and what’s the vision behind it? 

Gerry

Well, I’ve been around a long time, and even though I started getting very involved in the mid-nineties, I’ve been working in some form in how we hire for my entire life since I was in college. And that’s 50 years ago. So I’ve been around for a long time. ButCareerXRoads has been for 25 years.

A business that I developed based on a vision of building a community. And it is a community of talent. acquisition leaders that basically care about each other on contributing to each other’s success and the way in which that has come to be, uh, really started almost 20 years ago I guess when I first started bringing people together mostly talent acquisition leaders and members of their teams from large companies, typically companies that are hiring between, thousands to tens of thousands of people each year.

I think collectively there are 140 members. It’s membership, probably higher than three million people globally. Most are multinationals, and we deal with each other virtually. I would say that online at CareerXRoads, we have maybe 50 conversations going on each time, and as many as 2000 or 3000 people are participating. 

When there isn’t a pandemic, we actually meet every month. I cap the number of people who can come together to fit at 50 because I want to keep it small and each has a different field. It might be about branding or sourcing or operations or something related to obviously telling an acquisition, and the expectation is that people talk to each other they share. If they don’t, they can’t be a member.

And so I do interview folks and turn down quite a few who just really wouldn’t be fit for them if they’re not willing to share. If they don’t have some critical thinking skills, they’re not really willing to step up and do things. Then, you know, it’s not gonna be a good place for them. And so I’m kind of a picky old coop when it comes to surrounding myself with people who are really sharp, bright, wanting to improve themselves, compelled to improve. I’m so passionate about this subject and I believe that most folks who are professionals should be developing and surrounding themselves with the community. 

“I believe that most folks who are professionals should be developing and surrounding themselves with the community” 

And I don’t think you need to join CareerXRoads to do that. I think you should just do that as part of how you learn as an adult. 

Aishwarya

Wow, that is phenomenal, and I just think that you’re doing great work and the vision is exemplary, and you’ve been around for a lot of years, a lot of experience, so that makes it even better.

Gerry

I could have retired a long time ago. I really enjoy myself. I enjoy what I do. And I enjoy participating in a profession. About recruiting, I think it is important right now around the world.

https://open.spotify.com/episode/3Z5kglCY84Nx8mNtG8xGPy

Aishwarya

Absolutely, it’s not been given enough spotlight and I think it does deserve a lot of it. I think, slowly, eventually, organizations are realizing that talent is really key to their success. And finally, they’re looking at people’s people and really trying to understand their mindsets and trying to be, really successful than in how they do recruitment, and how they get in talent, how they’re looking at employer branding, having a good employee experience and all of that right! 

And, I’m sure you know, you look at a candidate experience and you understand that there are so many things involved in good candidate experience.

So what advice would you give to, you know, all those companies that are struggling to offer a good candidate experience?

Gerry

Well, I think there are several things. So, starting at the beginning really is collecting data, but not just from what you think you know, as a recruiter or as a recruiting leader or as a vendor supporting space. I think we really need to collect better data.

And the easiest thing for almost any employer today is to begin by asking the people who just hired, to describe the experience of y had and most of them will describe a positive experience if they don’t, you know, you got some really bad issues. Because the average person you’ve hired is thrilled to be hired by you. 

“Because the average person you’ve hired is thrilled to be hired by you.” 

If you collect that data, you’re going to be facing critical issues as you move forward, you really just can’t just say, “Oh, I’m going to improve X, Y and Z in terms of how I practice, um, interview skills and how I how I set expectations for candidates about the day that they come in for interviews on these days” 

How you’re going to handle yourself virtually in a screening session and how you’re gonna handle yourself in the interview sessions with hiring managers who may or may not feel comfortable doing virtual interviews and then selecting someone based just on that.

So, there’s a lot to learn, but you need to be able to collect the data about how that impacts my sense that you’ve done something for me, that’s fair, and treated me with some degree of respect. Once you can do that, you can connect that data to the functioning of your organization and potentially to the performance of your company. And over the last 10 years, one of the companies I founded, Talent Board has been collecting that kind of data. 

So one of the things that you could do as an employer, is participating in the Annual Candidate Experience Awards of Talent Board because it requires that you survey all of your candidates or a subset of your current candidates, including about 80% of those who were not hired.

And the data that comes back gets focused on four or five different categories that allow you to see where the problem probably lies in terms of how your net promoter score indicates how well you were doing. And we celebrate companies who are getting high net promoter scores by comparison to others.

And there is a lot of content and case studies that are free on a website called the talentboard.org. So if you went there, you could download a lot of detail around candidate experience. But again, I would go back to the fact that Don’t even start to try to change anything unless you have spent some time collecting data from your candidates.  

“Don’t even start to try to change anything unless you have spent some time collecting data from your candidates.”

Aishwarya

Amazing. That’s amazing. Well, you know, you’re right the candidate experience is one field that still has to be mastered because a lot of candidates go back with an impression that can either be positive or negative about the organization. And as you know the number one source of hiring is still referrals, and if you’re not advocating your talent branding is something that’s, you know, positive. And it gives a good feeling to the candidate, then the candidate would probably never even come a second time to the organization or spread a word about your organization and that becomes crucial. And I think a lot of hiring managers just do not.

I understand that and you don’t even after the candidate is rejected, a lot of them do not even get back to the candidate telling them what were the reasons for the rejection or even, you know, just informing them about it. Do you think that that is an issue? 

Gerry

They’re all issues, and the point is each company probably has an issue that stands out more than another. And so to assume that your problem is because you don’t get back to the candidate might be an interesting way of starting, and you’d certainly improve things if you figured out how to use technology.

“And so to assume that your problem is because you don’t get back to the candidate might be an interesting way of starting, and you’d certainly improve things if you figured out how to use technology.”

…and the people at hand to ensure that every single person expresses an interest, is able to know their status within some standard period time. Within 30 days, I will tell people their status and or they will know that we’re moving forward or not moving forward with them. 

So you can set a measurable objective for any of these areas. But the point is, which of them are having the most impact right now, you’re not gonna change everything overnight, and it’s very difficult to step up to the hiring manager or the business leader and say to them, you are not participating in this in a way that’s helping us to create an improved candidate experience either because you don’t believe it has value or you’re not. You’re not capable from a skill point of view.

And so perhaps you shouldn’t have the title hiring manager Just manager. 
Get somebody else to hire, that obviously you get you fire. “But there are companies, for example, where they have identified that the hiring manager is in fact, the choke point for how this works.”

“But there are companies, for example, where they have identified that the hiring manager is in fact, the choke point for how this works.”

And a couple of them, for example, not only train hiring managers requiring training for hiring managers in order for them to actually do any hiring. But they audit the skills of those hiring managers to confirm that they’ve learned what we taught them.

And if they can’t demonstrate that using the skills we talked them to interview, they are no longer allowed to hire. Now think about that for a second. There’s only a couple of companies that do that.

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But what it does is it changes the game and how you engage top-quality candidates to demonstrate that we have created a process that is fair and that if you have what we’re looking for, you, in fact, will not only get hired but if you’re not hired, we’ll be able to give you the kind of feedback that allows for you to be more competitive next time or find a great job in another company.

And that these are things that impact, much more than simply a recruiting operation. They impact the perception of all those candidates about your services and products that you have out there.

They impact their ability, for example, to want to go outside or go beyond what they normally might do to refer others, as you mentioned referrals, but we often think of referrals from employees. But there are companies who are getting enormous numbers of referrals by candidates who didn’t get hired.

“But there are companies who are getting enormous numbers of referrals by candidates who didn’t get hired.”

And what it does is reduces the friction of recruiting. You know, if you have, if you have these folks who are really strong candidates coming in from candidates who weren’t as strong but went out of their way to find somebody who is good enough and encourage them to get to come to, you know and apply. That’s powerful, and it makes your recruiter’s job a hell of a lot easier. 

Now. I’m not saying there’s a lot of companies out there doing that. There are hundreds of companies around the world, however, who are slowly and consistently improving their candidate experience year after year because they’re focusing on Collecting the data and then focusing on correcting the area that has the biggest impact.

“Collecting the data and then focusing on correcting the area that has the biggest impact.”

Aishwarya

Absolutely.

I think data can help them recruit better and get better at the interview process and have engaged better with candidates as well.

And do you also believe in the concept of performance-based hiring or, the fact that data, as you said it is kind of crucial and validation of data would be crucial? So do you have a say in performance-based hiring?

Gerry

Yeah, well, the answer is yes, where the context allows for it. So, for example, if I’m looking for someone who would have developed skills over the course of several years and that those skills are still relevant to the use of that job I would absolutely be looking at a performance-based approach.

But there are two situations in which that’s not the easiest thing to do:

  1. 1. The first is someone who is a freshman coming out of school, the performance is a stretch because they haven’t performed, at least not from a job point of view. They typically have performed in a variety of other ways, and we’re making inferences about that kind of performance is opposed to measuring something that’s very, very close to it. So there are these subtle differences around that, and we’re looking more at the attitude and value-related issues. 
  1. 2. The second issue is when we have enormous change due to technology or something else that’s happening in our environment, pandemic, that changes the job significantly. And so measuring your performance on how you,  might have done this five years ago versus today, it requires a whole different skill set, is not as easy to draw conclusions related to that. And so now you may want to look at how people adapt, out to changes in an environment that’s fast changing. More so than whether or not they can do a given thing and perform in a given way two years ago.

“And so now you may want to look at how people adapt, out to changes in an environment that’s fast changing. More so than whether or not they can do a given thing and perform in a given way two years ago.”

So there isn’t one answer to this question at this point.

Aishwarya

Yeah, that makes sense. It depends, you know, if you’re a fresher as you said, you might not have the aptitude, but you might have the attitude. So it’s an aptitude vs attitude balance that you need to understand and probably performance-based hiring would definitely make sense that there is a professional who has done that you know for a long, long time and then makes absolute sense!

And you know, when it comes to technology, right?

How much do you think high touch experience,  human experience vs technological HR perspective? What’s the kind of out there that you think is right?

Gerry

Well, I think your statement of balance is actually the critical issue here because I think there’s a total misalignment in relation to technology. I’m absolutely convinced, obviously, that we must embrace and enhance how we use technology.

“I’m absolutely convinced, obviously, that we must embrace and enhance how we use technology.”

Can you imagine trying to interview me, for example, 35 miles out of New York from Mumbai, India, 20 years ago? It just doesn’t even sync up. And the logistics alone would drive all of us nuts, and essentially, in three minutes to go, you know, I can get on a Zoom call with you, and you can record videotape, and for the most part, it’s pretty stable along the lines.

I mean, how unique is that? I mean,  and I’m old enough to have been through almost every stage of technology, probably going back to when the phones were trying to figure out how to be used. But no, maybe not that far.

So here’s the point of the problem. Most technologies claim way more than they actually produce. So most technologies claim, for example, to enhance the candidate experience. And I would call BS on that. Their technology is a platform. It’s use or abuse has to do with the practice of how you use it.

And so technology that allows for video interviewing doesn’t enhance candidate experience or does not cause candidate experience to be better. It can enhance candidate experience better, if I have good practices for how I set up that interview, that video interview, how I set expectations, how I come across as interested and caring and, helpful to you, if you are a candidate and nervous about engaging, since you really care about wanting to get this job and so helping you to set this to set the stage a few hours, helping to set the stage that allows for you to put your best foot forward and compete on the basis of the performance or whatever versus how well you can handle video is going to be a critical kind of thing. And so some of the tools for technology recognize that, and so offer a better platform for you to be able to set expectations for the candidate to practice…

“And so some of the tools for technology recognize that, and so offer a better platform for you to be able to set expectations for the candidate to practice…”

…for the candidate to get some feedback related to how they come across for you to be able to share and suggest that maybe you should share,  how you dress or how you set up a background or, ah, you know, avoid noise or any number of things that could be distracting within the framework of that tool. 

But that’s a practice that’s not the technology. The technology is just a platform. And so the platforms are going to be critical in how you find, and how you engage, and how you communicate, and how you select. So whether it be assessment, whether it be video, whether it be anything, any part of the journey of recruiting.

Technology is going to be increasingly important for the best candidates to be able to find you and recognize that your employee brand is one that resonates with their value system, for example. So increases the likelihood that they’re going to apply and that you can actually search and find them, and then be able to begin to engage them over time. That leads to them joining you. And then they perform in a great way and your company gets better.

“Technology is going to be increasingly important for the best candidates to be able to find you and recognize that your employee brand is one that resonates with their value system, for example. So increases the likelihood that they’re going to apply and that you can actually search and find them, and then be able to begin to engage them over time. That leads to them joining you. And then they perform in a great way and your company gets better.” 

That technology is gonna be there for sure and we need to be able to pilot all of those, but not with the idea that they’re going to do it for us. What we have to decide is how we behave and each step of the way in how we treat our recruiters, our business leaders, our hiring managers and our candidates and when we focus on that, those sets of practices, and continuously tweak them to get them better. Then I think we’re operating in concert with what technology can offer. 

Aishwarya

Yeah. So what you’re essentially saying is that technology has a supporting role. But the protagonist of this is, really the people, the HR, the recruitment folks, and that’s how the real process will be enhanced and you would get success for your organization. 

Gerry

It is and the problem is that that’s not a lesson that many vendors have learned. They need to be able to state what they can do to help you, and to support you, not to replace your ability to do it if they got that, they should be advertising, in a different way than most of them do today, with a lot of shiny object kind of approaches to everything.

I can’t tell you how many times during the course of a week someone tells me that they have the silver bullet that will answer and solve every problem I have in recruiting and I don’t recruit.

So the first problem is they know nothing about me to filter me out from telling me that I’m a recruiter and they should sell to me, I can only imagine a cheerleader and how many of those things they get.

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Aishwarya

Yeah, that could be really frustrating if you’re just getting bombarded with these talks that are not even relevant to you. It does not make sense.

And there are thousands of organizations small, medium, large, they’re struggling with retention rates. What do you think is the main problem for that? and do you have any tips or any advice for such organizations?

Gerry

I always have tips and advice. It’s just whether or not anybody’s gonna take it, you have the answer to retention from my perspective, is you have to own it. Most firms, most employers do not own retention.

“Most firms, most employers do not own retention.”

If they’re in talent acquisition, they say, ‘Well, that’s a different problem that’s talent management’ and talent management says, ‘Well, you know, that we taught them everything they need, it’s the hiring manager’ it goes on and on, and there’s a vicious circle of, if you only knew you would be high hoping to hire people who could be retained.

The argument is, yeah, you got to create a different kind of environment, so owning it means that there is somebody responsible for that from a leadership point of view and it goes, little top-down, and there’s a little bottom up. Okay, and let me give you a couple of examples.

When I worked for Johnson and Johnson somewhere in the dinosaur age and was responsible for recruiting. Several times I went to a business leader, a director, and told them,

‘I will not have my people recruit for your people any longer. It just will not happen, because here is the data. The data shows that you abuse people in a way that they leave in a short period of time and here are some of the types of people who leave even faster, then some of the other types of people. And that’s not acceptable in our valued company. So my people will not work for you anymore’ and they would go, ‘Oh, what? We’re gonna get you fired because that’s not what your job is’ and I’m going ‘No, it is my job. This is my company as much as yours’

So here’s the point. How much are you willing to risk as a recruiter or as a talent management leader to go to the bosses who run the company and say this is not in our best interests to drive people away from us, who are going to tell others not to ever come here because of how they’re treated and or how the system abuses them?

Or ow the fact is that because they are female they’re not getting as much money as males doing the same job or whatever, whatever it is, and again it has to do with data and how do you get the data? You don’t get the data by having the person who leaves be interviewed by an HR person on the day they leave and asks them, Why are you leaving? That’s not a good practice.

“You don’t get the data by having the person who leaves be interviewed by an HR person on the day they leave and asks them, Why are you leaving? That’s not a good practice.”

There is an appropriate way to do this, and I know psychologists have figured it out many, many years ago, and essentially, it’s going to take them 30-60-90 days out with an independent group that anonymizes their data and ensures that that data is organized in a way that can be used but protects, the anonymity of the person who’s out.

Then the company has to decide what is the cost of fixing this and whether that’s worth it to them. And, you know, unfortunately, in the past, businesses have said, ‘Well, you know, so we have a turnover that’s this high, but on the other hand, we don’t have to pay them because they never stay here long enough in order to get promoted or, their salary increase’.

There’s a business issue here that has to be addressed against the values and culture of the company, and once that’s done, you can start moving to improve assessment processes, to improve the training of hiring managers, to improve how their performance is measured to improve a variety of other kinds of things.

The retention is a serious, serious issue, and companies that are struggling with retention, as opposed to those who aren’t the only way they do this is if someone within the organization says I own retention and that should be the CHRO in my opinion and the CHRO should put in place the kinds of people from an analytics point of view, and from a management point of view, who have the wherewithal to step up, tell the truth and sometimes the truth, to power and make stuff happen, what else can I say?

“…and the CHRO should put in place the kinds of people from an analytics point of view, and from a management point of view, who have the wherewithal to step up, tell the truth and sometimes the truth, to power and make stuff happen, what else can I say?” 

Aishwarya

Absolutely. Yeah, I think there is a fundamental issue of, accountability and ownership, and that really drags the entire organization down. Maybe you need to set some KPIs around it, and you need to really measure the success and the failures of recruitment so that they can look at attrition rates and make some adjustments and look at data.

But I completely agree with you it’s accountability, and it’s about owning that function, which is not really there in a lot of organizations and you’re a strong believer in collaboration and networking.

What do you have to say to all those leaders who were right now struggling with, you know, managing a remote team during these unfortunate times? 

Gerry

Well, it’s not easy, it’s certainly it’s not an easy issue for everyone. We all are operating from, whatever the borders are in our rooms and homes and it’s easy to stay very inward.

It’s also easy to stay focused on, things that are transactional, what we have to do in work and everything else. But I do think that especially during this time, we as leaders, team leaders or just as colleagues need to be less concerned with work, assume that most people who are working will want to try to accomplish some things just like they did before.

“But I do think that especially during this time, we as leaders, team leaders or just as colleagues need to be less concerned with work, assume that most people who are working will want to try to accomplish some things just like they did before.”

So if they performed before, they have no difference in terms of their motivation to want to perform. 

The issues right now, I think, are much more emotional, and people operate differently when they are put in isolation, when they’re forced to deal with things that are frightening and when they are uncertain, when they’re when their significant others or friends may be encountering some serious problems either, making a living or whatever.

So it seems to me we should be much more attentive and in these times, rather than spending the time focusing on the details of the job, I think that should be minimized and secondary, and we should find more ways to talk to one another, about what’s important to them and listen. So as a leader in any organization, I would be trying to figure out more ways that I can listen to my people and engage my people to talk to me and others around them.

“So as a leader in any organization, I would be trying to figure out more ways that I can listen to my people and engage my people to talk to me and others around them.”

…about what I need in order to satisfy all of these issues around me, so that I can focus a little bit on work whenever but until I can satisfy some of these issues and some of them are gonna be really important, how can I help you deal with that?

Because in the end, we hope this will be over and you’ll come back to work and I want you to come back to work even more motivated that this is an organization that cares about you, not just about the work that you do.

So if you can have, just a morning wake up call that doesn’t talk about work that talks about, How are we today? Whatever it might be. Different companies are trying different kinds of things in relation to that different way to communicate.

I don’t think there’s an answer that everybody can adopt, but I do think that’s the attitude has to be that as a leader, I should be caring about each of my team and checking in with them in a way that asks them to help me help them. Rather than how do you help the company by finishing this report or doing whatever.

Aishwarya

Absolutely. This is the time when leaders have to be compassionate, and they would have to really engage with their employees to understand what’s going on with them to really empathize and I think that’s what going around, on the internet, everybody is talking about empathizing, and that’s really the need, of the hour. I agree with you and to finally, close the interview –

I would like to ask you for any other important sound bytes that you’d like to leave our audience with.

Gerry

Well, I think there’s an opportunity to think about what comes next, once this pandemic is over, clearly, there’s an extraordinary shift in going from experimenting with video, for example, to really working remotely with a video and audio, and most companies have shifted from, 10% 20% 30% whatever it might have been, there’s not too many that were already 100% remote and based on having conversations and communicating that way but everybody now has the experience.

Everybody is now really embedded in that experience and I think when we come back, we’re going to see a different balance in face-to-face versus remote or home-based.

I think it would be very significant. I think it will be significant enough that it will impact real estate in large cities, and where people prefer to work from, one of your choices in life is where you live or should be.

People feel forced, perhaps on in some instances, to live in a large city. Others prefer to live in a large city. I think we’re gonna shift more to the preference than the forced apart.

That’s not gonna be for everybody but it will be for I think, a greater number of folks and as a result of that, I think you’re going to see a change in how leadership communicates and operates with people and they’ll have to have a little bit more of, a community feel they’re gonna have to pivot not just to a network, but a community and the difference is the network is just all the people I know, but a community is people who feel they belong and so the skill at helping someone feel that they belong to this group when they are separated by, space, they don’t show up in the given place. It’s going to be a little bit different.

I think that the kind of leadership that will predominate will be much more of a servant leadership, turn it upside down a little bit, and directors, managers are more concerned about figuring out how they can help the people rather than what the people could do for them.

“I think that the kind of leadership that will predominate will be much more of a servant leadership, turn it upside down a little bit, and directors, managers are more concerned about figuring out how they can help the people rather than what the people could do for them.”

…which tends to be, that ego-driven I make the most money so, therefore, I’m the biggest deal on the block, and so I’m kind of interested to see if that transpires, and that would be obviously an extension of what we’ve all learned but it will also depend on whether or not people who are the workers kind of demand that, if you’re not giving it to me, I can leave and go somewhere else and so that’s probably going to be, the key interest for me in terms of seeing what happens in the future. 

Aishwarya

Absolutely. I think it’s time that leaders and managers dilute their egos and try to be more engaging, more empathetic towards their employees because we don’t know about the implications of the pandemic and how the world is going to change once this is over

Gerry

Right, and the issue obviously is culture plays an extraordinary role in all of this. So, how this expresses itself in India, in New York, in Singapore, wherever, will probably be different because of significant differences in how culture operates but still, it is. “We are all in a world that is learning more about each other every day, so hopefully is capable of accepting those cultural differences in a way that’s positive for all of us and how we live our lives.”

“We are all in a world that is learning more about each other every day, so hopefully is capable of accepting those cultural differences in a way that’s positive for all of us and how we live our lives.”

So I’m kind of hopeful around all of that and I find it a fascinating kind of thing to observe. As long as I don’t go outside the house. 

Aishwarya

Yeah, it’s gonna be interesting to see how this unfurls and hopefully, it’s going to be positive, it’s going to change the way we look at each other and engage with each other. Probably we look at the glass half full after this is over.

Gerry

I hope so. I hope more people do

Aishwarya

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much, Jerry. It was wonderful talking, to you I had an amazing conversation. Thank you for sharing your views with us.

Gerry

Thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity and I wish you the very best. So let me know how this how works out. And, hopefully, we’ll chat again in the future. 

Aishwarya

Absolutely. I will stay in touch with you, take care, Gerry. 

Gerry

All right. Thank you.