Reporter's Notebook

30 Minutes On Parking

Jeff Perkins, SPA/BA ’96, CEO of ParkMobile, shares his approach to managing the fast-growing application while keeping an eye on changes to transportation and mobility down the road 

By

Jeff Perkins

As chief executive officer of ParkMobile, Jeff Perkins, SPA/BA ’96, addresses several tasks in parallel.

First, he and his team must manage the mobile parking technology’s day-to-day growth. Bouncing back after the early stages of the pandemic, in which commuting, driving to restaurants, and shopping in person all took massive hits, ParkMobile reached the 30 million customer threshold in December. The Atlanta-based company, whose app allows users to reserve and extend parking via mobile application rather than pay kiosk, now averages one million new customers every month.

At the same time, ParkMobile considers how consumer preferences around parking might change, and how technology, including the continued rise of electric vehicles and EV charging infrastructure as well as not-too-distant autonomous vehicles, will play a role in shaping them.

“We’re always thinking about that. We’re always thinking about what would be technologies that would disrupt our business and cause significant risk to the company,” Perkins says. “Fortunately for us, we’re the disruptor right now.”

Perkins joined the 30 Minutes On podcast in December to discuss his career in marketing as well as take us on a walk in park.

Listen to the podcast, or read the full transcript below:

 

Full Transcript

Andrew Erickson: Hello and welcome to 30 Minutes On, a podcast from American University magazine. I’m American magazine staff writer Andrew Erickson.

Today, in our spring 2022 episode, we’re spending 30 minutes on parking.

In 2017, School of Public Affairs alumnus Jeff Perkins joined ParkMobile, first as its chief marketing officer. He was then named CEO of the Atlanta-based company in July. Since, it’s been all park and little recreation for Perkins and the nation’s leading mobile parking technology provider. ParkMobile continues to add to its 558 locations across 42 states and DC. It eclipsed the 30 million customer threshold in December, and it adds another million customers every 30 days. And in September, Perkins published his first book, How Not to Suck at Marketing.

Perkins joined the podcast in December and reflected on his path in marketing and his company’s efforts to manage present day growth while contemplating the future of transportation. ParkMobile continues to think outside the lines while we just try to stay within them.

Set your parking brake, then take a break to listen to our interview with Perkins. We hope you enjoy.

Andrew Erickson: Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to join us on the podcast. We really appreciate you making the time. I guess just to start, you were named CEO of ParkMobile in July; what have your last four months been like and what have been some of your most important priorities during that time?

Jeff Perkins: Yeah, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride over the last few months. I wasn’t actually expecting to become CEO of the company when they appointed me, but our previous CEO, who I had worked with closely for about, I think about four years while I was at the company, he decided to pursue another opportunity after the company was acquired earlier this year, and it opened up an opportunity for me to step up into the role. And I’ve been at ParkMobile since 2017. I started as the chief marketing officer and then became the head of our product, and then our CTO left, and so I took on the technology responsibilities in an interim capacity. And so when John Ziglar, our previous CEO, resigned, I was already running a very big part of the organization at that point, and our new owners felt it would be probably better to have someone with the continuity that the team knew and trusted than just bringing someone from the outside. So that’s kind of how I stepped into the role, but it’s really been fun. I’ve always, as an executive, taking a very broad view of the business, so I'm not one who stays in my lane particularly well. I think that's a good thing when you're the CEO. I've already had very broad exposure to every facet of the organization. So now it’s just going deeper in some of those areas that I haven’t been as close to, like finance or sales, and making sure that those teams have everything they need to be successful.

AE: And I mean, just anecdotally it’s hard to go almost anywhere without seeing ParkMobile somewhere. I think just a couple of weeks ago I went to lunch and parked in Arlington, Virginia, and there was ParkMobile there. We were just talking about Columbus, Ohio, a little bit earlier and how that’s one of the bigger cities for you. And that’s obviously backed up by the numbers with you guys adding a million users every 30 days. How would you describe the experience of watching that growth from the inside and now leading that growth?

JP: It’s really been fun. And one thing I’ve learned in my career is that when you’re at companies that are growing fast, you’re going to have a lot more fun than if you’re at a company that’s more mature and is just stable to declining. So I tend to gravitate towards businesses that have high potential for fast growth. And I think when I joined ParkMobile, it seemed like we had a lot of the recipe for success, but we weren’t necessarily successful quite yet. So in 2017, if we rewind, we had about 8 million users of the app and we were acquiring a lot of users on a daily basis. But it was putting a lot of strain on the technology because as you grow, a big challenge is just you have to grow and scale the technology along with the user base. I remember when I first joined the company, we would start to go down every day at twelve and three, so 3 being when the West Coast people go to lunch and obviously 12 during East Coast lunch time. So 12 and 3 every day, the app would either be very slow or would go down some days. And that’s a horrible thing to have happen. But I remember thinking at the time and I told our team, I said, ‘Well, this is the best problem you can have,’ because I would much rather have an app that maybe goes down because so many people want to use it than have an app that super stable that nobody wants to use. And so you realize along the way that we really have something that people want, right? People don't want to necessarily go to a parking meter anymore and have coins in their car or fuss around with a complicated display interface. People just don't want to do that anymore when they can do it on their app. So that’s really been the difference for us is that the app is the preferred way to pay for everything these days, including parking. The other nice thing about the app, the feature that it has that I think people really like, is that you can extend parking right from the app. So if you pay for parking, you’re out and about, you don't have to worry about running back to feed the meter. Right? You could just pay and then extend and get more time. That's a really great feature that you could only do on an app. You can’t do it on a physical piece of hardware. So we feel like we have something that a lot of people want. And during 2020 and COVID became even more of a necessity that cities offer a contactless option. One, because they don’t want a lot of people spreading germs by touching physical hardware. Two, they didn’t want to have people out on the street collecting coins or collecting cash out of these hardware machines. And so those two factors really led to a lot of growth for us during the last 24 months as cities quickly said, ‘Hey, we want to get a mobile app option for all of our residents and constituents because we know that it's an option they prefer and it’s also probably a safer option as well.’

AE: I was just going to ask you because it feels like I’ve asked every story subject over the last couple of years how the pandemic has impacted things. But parking at large and mobile parking specifically, what would you say are some of the biggest changes, aside from the contact piece and ensuring safety there?

JP: Well, early on in the pandemic, our business was down about 95 percent, which is a good indicator that the shutdown policies that were in place were being followed pretty closely because no one was going out, no one was parking. In a city like Washington, DC, they said, ‘Okay, we’re not going to enforce parking, right? So we’re not going to put officers out there writing tickets at all. In fact, they didn’t even start enforcing until 2021, June 2021, I think they started enforcing again. And so that had a really negative impact on our business, as you can imagine, because we get paid when people park and if nobody's parking, we’re not getting paid. And so that was challenging for our business in a lot of ways. And we had to make some decisions to reduce expenses to really weather the storm that was coming over the next few months. Now we're back to a growth stage. We are very proud, though, that during COVID we did not lay off or furlough any employees. We found other ways to reduce expenses within the organization, but we were able to keep all of our employees on board through the entire time, which was a big deal for us. A lot of companies that operate in the parking industry, they had to let go a lot of people. They had to furlough a lot of people. We chose not to do that and we were able to maintain our staff. But I think some of the changes that we're seeing overall within the parking industry that were driven by COVID, one I talked about before, it’s just the move towards more contactless payment options, really accelerating that. We saw so many cities contact us during COVID because maybe they didn’t have a mobile app in place, and they said we need to get mobile app right away. One of our competitors went out of business due to COVID. And so then we went in and we rolled out in a lot of the cities that they were in because the city was left without any mobile app option, which is not great when you want people to pay contactlessly. And so it really helped accelerate a lot of the growth of our and expansion of locations. It also, I think, drove a lot of adoption of users. So it would maybe take us about 100 days to acquire a million users of the app pre-COVID. Now we’re acquiring a million users every 30 days. So our user acquisition, the number of people that are starting to use the app and come to the app has really increased at an exponential level. I was looking at numbers earlier. I think our user acquisition year over year is up about 130 percent. That’s from 2020. It’s up 110 percent from 2019, which was more of a normal year that we benchmark against. So overall, you have more cities and more locations that want a contactless option. You have more users that want a contactless option for parking payments. So that's all very good for us as a business.

What’s more challenging, I think, is that some of the parking inventory is going away because of COVID. So during the pandemic, a lot of cities opened up curbside dining, for example, and that took away some of the parking inventory that the city used to have. And so you’ll probably see some of those impacts, there will be maybe less parking spaces because of some of the changes to outdoor dining that I think are probably here to stay. I think people started liking eating outdoors, especially if the weather is right it’s a nice setting to enjoy dinner. So there may be a little bit less parking inventory overall, which will create some challenges as far as people driving the cities where they are going to park. But overall, we’re pretty happy seeing volumes come back. Probably the biggest question mark, though, for us and parking in cities as a whole, is are commuters ever going to come back at full capacity? We’re located in Atlanta, Georgia. Most offices in Atlanta are still not open. Maybe people are going in one or two days a week. So the question is, ‘are people going to ever go back five days a week, or are they going to go back three days a week, and how are they going to get to work?’ Are they going to go back to public transportation or are they all going to be in a car? And so those are some of the questions that we really don’t have answers to right now. But there’s just a lot of changes in mobility going forward in how people are going to get into the city and what mode of transportation they’re going to take.

AE: Right. And I’m curious, when you first started at ParkMobile in 2017, how new you were to parking, what it was like to kind of get up to speed and learning the tricks of the trade in that respect, and whether you viewed it first as a technology company, first as a parking company, a mix of both at the same time, and whether that viewpoint ever changes for you?

JP: Yeah, I am a technology executive. So I’ve been working in technology for the last 20 plus years. And so I looked at ParkMobile when I was looking at the opportunity as a tech company. Right? They make a mobile app. They do financial transactions and payments through the app. And so I looked at it as a tech company. But when I got into the business, I realized we are also a parking company. We are in the parking industry. And I've had to learn a lot about the industry, and it’s really interesting, it’s probably more innovative than people would give it credit for because people just think about parking. People actually never think about parking until you have to park. But the industry is really evolving a lot in the way that they think about parking. Actually, our leading trade organization used to be called the International Parking Institute, and they changed their name to the International Parking and Mobility Institute because the industry is thinking much more broadly about mobility issues versus just parking. And so I think that’s really where it’s interesting because you think about all these new ways people can get around, whether it’s rideshare, scooters, bikeshare. There’s a lot of new ways and a lot of new technologies coming into cities. And many cities have been unprepared because it’s been very much like it’s all about parking in the past. Sure. So it's really, I think, an exciting future in the industry as we evolve to more providers of smart mobility solutions as opposed to just classic parking. I think in the coming years, there's going to be a lot of innovation on what we call the curb in the industry. We talk a lot about curb management and what you’re doing with that space. And if you think about in the past, it was just, okay, cars park there, but now you have what we need space for bikes and scooters, and we need maybe electric vehicle charging stations at some of these places. We need loading zones. We need ADA accessible zones for certain populations. So it’s going to be very interesting future in parking and mobility. And I think it’s very exciting.

AE: And what is it like for you and your firm as you kind of confront some of those questions about what parking and what mobility looks like and what the technology looks like in the future with this immediate rapid growth that’s happening for you? And how do you kind of balance those two things that are happening simultaneously?

JP: Right, so the challenge in running any business is you have to focus on the day to day. You have to focus on what’s driving revenue and making sure you’re not taking your eye off that ball at all. And at the same time, you have to look way downfield and think about, okay, what’s parking going to look like 5-10 years in the future, because if you’re not constantly doing that, at some point you risk getting disrupted and suddenly you’re out of business. You think about people who worked at Kodak in the days that digital cameras were coming in, and I’m sure there are executives today that are kicking themselves saying, ‘Why didn’t we get ahead of that trend? And why didn’t we position our company differently at the time?’ And we’re always thinking about that. We’re always thinking about what would be technologies that would disrupt our business and cause significant risk to the company. I think, fortunately for us, we’re the disruptor right now. So we’ve disrupted an industry. We make the hardware providers very nervous, obviously, because they’re used to selling meters and pay stations and kiosks that are on the street, and there’s probably less demand for that hardware. There’s more demand for contactless payments. But there are risks out there. If you think about autonomous vehicles, for one, that’s one where if all cars are autonomous, do you need parking as much, or what does parking look like if there are fleets of autonomous vehicles driving around the city? lectric vehicle charging is another one. If every parking spot has a charging station, do you pay for parking or do you pay for charging? There are those issues that have to be kind of unpacked, I think. But it’s going to be a long time. That’s the one thing we know.

AE: And to change gears a little bit, what were some of the first steps you took after leaving AU and what ultimately led you to ParkMobile?

JP: Oh, gosh, AU was so long ago for me. So I graduated in 1996 from American. I had a fantastic experience there. I had this major at the time, it was called CLEG: communications, [legal institutions], economics, and government. I don’t know if they have that anymore.

AE: Still exists, yep.

JP: It’s interdisciplinary studies, kind of political science with a little bit added on, I guess is the way you describe it. But I had such a great experience at the school studying politics. And I had a White House internship in my junior and senior years in the Clinton administration, and that was a really fun experience in a lot of ways. But then when I came out of school with this CLEG degree, I realized I didn’t know where to go. I had already worked in government, so I was kind of lost upon graduation. Just through some networking, I landed some interviews in the advertising business. Because you come out with political science, if you’re not going to go jump on a campaign or work at Hill, you got to figure out something else. And honestly, I loved studying government and politics, but I didn’t think after four years it was a career I wanted to pursue, which I wish I knew when I went into the school. But sometimes we learn these things over time. And so I ended up getting a job in an advertising agency after graduation. It’s an agency called Saatchi and Saatchi, a big global agency, and I worked on the Procter and Gamble account. And so my clients were Tide laundry detergent and Cascade dishwashing detergent. I was living in New York City in a shoebox apartment. I didn’t have a washer dryer or a dishwasher. Yet I worked on these iconic soap brands. But it was just such a great experience working on Procter and Gamble. And I learned so much. And I really admired my clients, who were the brand managers for Tide and Cascade. And I said, ‘Well, how do I be more like them?’ And so I spent some time with them talking about their career path, and they had all gone and gotten their MBAs after school. And so I said, well, maybe that’s my path because I really liked business and marketing and advertising, but I had never taken any courses in those things when I was at AU. And so I went back to graduate school at Emory University and got my MBA. So I worked for about five years in advertising, went and got my MBA at Emory, and then after business school, I graduated in 2003, and that was a horrible time to come out of business school because we had just had the dotcom bust and nobody was hiring. And so I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to go work at Proctor and Gamble or Coca Cola, the traditional brand management companies. So I did what I had done before business school, which was advertising. So I went back to advertising after spending the two years in business school. I worked at an agency called it was called Euro RSCG at the time. Now it’s called Havas. I was running a couple of accounts, one for GlaxoSmithKline, and then I moved on to Volvo. So I was running digital marketing for Volvo, having a lot of fun. The Volvo brand is a fantastic brand. At the time, my wife and I were expecting our first child, and we were living in New York City, and we had this collective freakout like, we can’t have a child in New York City, it’s impossible. And so I started just poking around for opportunities outside of New York, and I landed one at a company called AutoTrader. And that got us out of New York and back to Atlanta, where I’d been for grad school at Emory. So I was at AutoTrader for five years, and it was a time when AutoTrader—I joined when they were about a $400 million company, and after five years, they were a billion dollar company and was a fantastic run there. Really enjoyed the experience, but it became this classic up or out scenario for me. So I had been there a long time. I didn't see the opportunity to progress my career and to move up into an executive level there just because there were so many layers. And so I moved out, I went to a company called PGi first. They were one of the leading audio and web conferencing companies, $500 million public company, and had a great experience there for about three years. We really focused on growing their web conferencing business at a time when GoToMeeting and Webex were really starting to get a strong foothold in the way knowledge workers did meetings. That was a really fun experience. I’d always worked in these bigger companies, and the more I kind of learned, I think, about what I like to do as a professional and the kind of career path I wanted to be on, I realized I liked being more entrepreneurial. I was spending a lot of time with entrepreneurs in Atlanta, and I was like, ‘These guys are having a lot more fun at their small startups than I am at my big company.’ And so I said, well, if there’s an opportunity to do something small and entrepreneurial, I think I would like that to be my next move. And around that time, there was a company that was starting up called QASymphony here in Atlanta, and they were looking for chief marketing officer. They were about a $1 million company, very small, about 15 employees. Their product was they made software for software testers, so QA testing software, which is not a category I had any knowledge of. But I liked the founder. I saw the opportunity they were going after and the total addressable market, and I just said, ‘Hey, this is probably a good time to do this because I’m not going to want to do it in ten years.’ But if I’m going to take this shot, this is the time. I was in my early 40s, and I just said, ‘Let’s go for it and see what happens.’ And I had just a fantastic run there. We went from $1 million to $20 million. We raised over that time about $80 million in venture funding through a Series B and Series C. We grew the team to 120 people, and then eventually the company got acquired or merged together with a bigger company called Tricentis. But that was just so fun. And just being at a company and seeing it grow like that, it’s almost like a drug. That’s all you want to do. You want to keep finding other companies that are growing at that rate. And so I was three years at QA Symphony. I loved so much about it, but I didn’t love the category that I was in: software testing. It wasn’t something that I was super excited about. And so the ParkMobile opportunity came my way, and that was really interesting to me because it was more of a consumer brand and the consumer product versus a kind of a techy B2B brand. It was very attractive to come into ParkMobile as their chief marketing officer because they had never really invested in marketing. I would describe the marketing function in the company as a little bit broken and needed some serious fixing. And I’m really attracted to opportunities like that to come in and fix and build, and so that’s why I joined up with the company about four years ago. And I guess the rest is history.

AE: And in September, you published a book, congratulations on that: How Not to Suck at Marketing. First, did you enjoy the process of writing a book? And then second, what are some of the lessons that you feel were most important that you were able to share there?

JP: Yeah, writing a book is very hard, but it was easier than I thought it would be. That’s probably the way I would describe it. It’s a very daunting task when you even think about this idea of writing 60,000 words or so and trying to say, ‘Well, what am I going to say? Can I actually write that much? Is it even possible?’ But once you sit down and start it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was, and it was kind of a fun process as well. The reason I wrote the book is that I had noticed a lot of my friends in marketing were getting fired. And I kind of asked myself, ‘What’s going on here? Why is marketing getting fired?’ And you read the studies, marketers are probably the shortest tenure in the executive suite, usually so anywhere from 18 to 24 months. And I said, ‘What's going on here with marketing? Why is the marketing function not working well for companies? And why are my friends getting fired when I think they’re really smart and really good?’ And at the same time, while I’m seeing a lot of my friends getting fired, I have CEOs and private equity guys and venture capital guys constantly calling me because they need marketing leaders for their companies. It seems to be something going on where there’s a lot of marketing people losing their jobs, there’s a lot of demand for good marketing people. And so the book was to try to figure out why that’s happening, what’s going on with marketing professionals that’s causing people to maybe lose their job, not do as good a job as they could do. And really, that was the journey or the question I set out to answer in the book: ‘Why do people suck at marketing? And what can you do to maybe not be great, but at least suck less?’ And so I wrote a lot about the dynamics in marketing today, the changes I’ve seen and why marketing is hard. And I give a lot of tips on how marketing professionals can survive and thrive in this new normal. I mean, when I started in marketing and advertising, there was really only one way to reach consumers. It was television ads. Maybe newspaper ads, radio ads, but traditional media, as they call it. Now there’s a million different ways to reach consumers, a ton of spend into all these digital tactics. And so for a marketer, you have to sort of reinvent yourself every few years as the technology evolves. And if you’re not doing that, you’re probably going to get left behind. And so that’s one of the big recommendations of the book, is just to always keep yourself updated on the latest and greatest, make sure you understand changes in marketing, how modern marketing is evolving. But the other thing I talk about in the book is around things that have worked for me over my career that I think anyone could take away and apply to their job. Because I think with marketing, there’s probably three keys: It’s focus, so we work in a function where there’s a lot of shiny objects to go chase, but having focus and figuring out what’s the most important problem you’re trying to solve and then doing everything you can to solve that problem is critical. Flexibility is the second one. So, basically not getting too precious about any one thing that maybe worked at your previous company that you think is going to work at your next company. There’s no playbook, right? Marketers that think they know the playbook are going to have some challenges if they go to a company and their playbook doesn’t work. The last thing is resiliency. That’s a big one with marketing. We’re in a tough industry. We have high pressure on us not just to build brands, but to drive revenue for the businesses we work on, and so to be successful, you have to realize you’re going to get a lot at-bats. A lot of at-bats, you’re going to miss a lot more than you hit, but it’s just powering through and sticking with it until you find the thing that works for the business. Those are, I think, the three things that I talk about in the book that I think are the keys to success for modern marketers. It’s focus, flexibility and resiliency.

AE: Finally, and just generally speaking, what does the next year look like for ParkMobile? I know you’ve had this tremendous growth, as you’ve mentioned, over the latter course of the pandemic, but what does the next year look like? What are some of the key things you’re most interested in this next year?

JP: Yeah, the year ahead I am super excited about for ParkMobile. I think we’ve done a lot of work on our products to make them better over the course of the year. We’ll continue to invest in our solutions and innovation, and I think we have great opportunity there. We have some new parts of the business that I think are very exciting. So most people use ParkMobile to pay for parking on street or maybe you’re in a lot and you just put in a zone number and you pay and you’re on your way. We’ve introduced a reservations feature to ParkMobile that I think is a great way for people to reserve in advance and then have peace of mind that they know exactly where they are going to park. And we’ve rolled this out for a lot of stadium venues so far. We don’t have as many people making reservations as probably we would like for events, but we think it’s a great product. So you’re going to the game at the stadium, why would you drive down there without knowing where you're going to park? And so we really think the event reservations part of the business has just huge growth potential for us over time. We work with one venue here in Atlanta, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Falcons play.

AE: I’ve covered a soccer game there, actually.

JP: Yes, or Atlanta United, our soccer team. So we’ve had a really tight relationship with that Stadium, and I think it’s probably the one stadium in the country where the vast majority of people who are going to the game actually reserve their parking in advance. About 70 percent of people know where they are going to park before they arrive at the stadium, and as a result, the congestion around the stadium in a busy urban core is actually not as bad as you would think it is because everyone knows where they’re going to park. So instead of circling the block, they drive right to the garage. It takes some of that congestion around game day off the street.

The reservations feature I’m really excited about. The other thing I’m excited about is around our fleet opportunity for the business. So right now we’re a consumer app. We're introducing a fleet program. The fleet program is going to allow you to actually if you have a business or a corporate car, you can pay with the ParkMobile app, but it all ties to a corporate account. If you’re someone in a corporate office that's managing 5, 10, 100 fleet vehicles that are out on the road, you'll know where all your fleet drivers are going. You’ll have all the analytics, you’ll be able to manage payment in one easy place. So we think the application of the ParkMobile app for businesses is another big growth opportunity for us going forward. Those are two things that I’m really excited about for the future, but I think beyond that, I just love our team. I think we have such a great group of people. We have about 200 of us at ParkMobile. We just had our holiday party last week. It was the first time we were actually all able to get together in person in almost two years. And it was super fun. We had karaoke. It was a blast. But I think for me as CEO, it’s a fairly simple formula. As a company, we have to have the best products. To have the best products, we have to have the best people, and to have the best people, we have to have the best culture. So a lot of my focus as a leader is around how do we create the culture at the company that’s going to attract the best people who can make the best products for us?

AE: And if you’re game I just have a couple of rapid fire questions for you before we wrap up.

JP: Yeah, man. Let’s go.

AE: All right. How confident on a scale of one to ten, how confident are you in your parallel parking abilities?

JP: I'm a lot more confident now than when I didn’t have a rear backup camera, I would say. But I’m still a five. I am not a good parallel parker.

AE: I’m with you on that. OK, so you’re approaching a parking stall. Are you going head in or are you backing in?

JP: I usually try to go head in if I can, and then more often than not I end up having to pull out and then back in because it’s not enough space.

AE: How much spare change for parking is currently in your car and is that something that you regularly have?

JP: I have no change in my car because I pay via app.

AE: There you go.

JP: I do not keep quarters in my car anymore.

AE: Do you remember your first parking ticket and if so where and when was it?

JP: I think I got my first parking ticket shortly after I got my license when I was 17 years old living in Southern New Jersey. I had gone into Philadelphia which was about 20 minute drive from my house and I didn’t understand the rules in Philadelphia around parking at the time, so I thought it was a space where I could park. Turns out I wasn’t allowed to park there that day. If you leave your car in a spot where you’re not supposed to park for just like five minutes in Philadelphia you’re probably going to get a ticket. They don’t fool around. They don’t want you parking where you’re not supposed to park. So yeah, in the city of Philadelphia is where I got my first parking ticket. I think it was like $25.

AE: What is the best estimate of the number of ParkMobile locations that you visited since joining the company?

JP: I’ve probably been to least 200 of our locations since I started because I travel a lot so whenever I go to a city where we’re available I like to just cruise around and just look at the signage that’s up make sure the signage looks good, just play around with the app at that location. I always try to use the app wherever I go.

AE: Well, Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time and sharing more about your career. We appreciate having you on.

JP: Thanks, Andrew. It’s great to be with you.

AE: That was the Spring 2022 episode of the 30 Minutes On podcast from American University magazine. Thank you so much to our guest, Jeff Perkins, for joining us to chat about the perks, pain points, and possibilities of life as a parking executive.

Be on the lookout for our spring 2022 magazine, which hits mailboxes soon, and read up on stories about other talented alumni, including: Jacyln McGarry, who is working to break the cycle of harmful ghost gear in our oceans; archaeologist Becca Peixotto, whose work is helping us piece together new details about a long lost species; and Vandi Verma, a roboticist and deputy section manager for mobility and robotics at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who has been driving Mars rovers for more than 13 years.

You can find previously recorded podcasts, including with Washington College of Law alumna Darianne De Leon and Sierra Club president and School of International Service alumnus Ramón Cruz, and subscribe in the Apple Podcasts App or in the Google Play store. A full transcript of the show is available on our website at american.edu/magazine. Our theme music is “Laurel Breeze” by Evan Schaeffer.

Also, let us know what you think—about the podcast or the spring magazine—by emailing magazine@american.edu or chatting with us on Twitter or Instagram at @AU_Americanmag.

Thanks for listening, park safely, and we’ll see you next time.