Note: Each month, we will feature a different member of the WebPT family in our Staff Spotlight blog series.
With his friendly demeanor and his natural flair for communication, Jake Nero has a knack for resolving even the most contentious situations—except when they involve a certain pot-bellied pig named Penelope. “I have a pig that’s my arch-nemesis,” he said. “I threaten to have her as Easter ham all the time, which my wife doesn’t find very funny. But I don’t think she’d be good anyway. She’s not very fat.”
These days, though, Jake doesn’t have much time to plot against his wife’s prized pet. As WebPT’s Member Liaison, he has his hands in virtually every department in a rapidly growing company—and that makes for a very full plate. In addition to managing large-scale implementations of WebPT’s software in big clinics, Jake often finds himself acting as a customer advocate.
“Part of my role is acting as a conduit to communicate our Members’ needs to the product and development department,” he said. “That way, we can make sure that we’re addressing those needs. Basically I have to pull together all the ideas Members give me and boil them all down to provide actionable insights to the people responsible for building the product.”
As one of WebPT’s earliest hires—he came on board in 2009—Jake estimates that he’s visited more Member clinics than any other employee to date. Additionally, he often represents WebPT at industry trade shows and company events, including the company’s Evolve conferences. And to top it all off, he’s still game to field a support call or two if need be, making him a true jack—er, Jake—of-all-trades.
Seeing WebPT go from tiny tech startup to industry leader has been, in Jake’s words, “mind-boggling,” and he feels fortunate to have found the opportunity so early in his career. So, how exactly did he end up here? Well, fresh out of school at Central College in Iowa—a small liberal arts school where he played four years of NCAA Division III football—Jake headed back home to Chandler, Arizona, to hunt for jobs. One of his friends, a former college volleyball player, had received physical therapy from Heidi Jannenga, WebPT Co-Founder and COO. Heidi wound up taking her on as an intern at WebPT, and when she left the internship for another position, she recommended Jake as a replacement.
The kicker? When Jake walked in for his first interview, he realized that he, too, had seen Heidi for treatment—when he was rehabbing a football injury during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years of college. At that point, something clicked and he knew he was exactly where he was supposed to be.
Jake’s role has evolved and expanded with the company’s growth, and he’s always looking for new ways to use his talents. “[I’m always trying to] bring to the table all of the experience and skills I have to offer and really leverage them to benefit WebPT,” he said. “And in doing so, I’ll find personal satisfaction as well as the professional growth I’m looking for.”
And that growth isn’t limited to WebPT. Even with his jam-packed schedule, Jake still manages to carve out time to serve as a volunteer freshman football coach at his old high school. “Coaching—especially coaching freshman—is extremely humbling,” he said. “It’s awesome to see their growth over the course of the season. Some come in not even knowing the rules of the game, and by the end of the year they’re actually making a contribution to the team.”
With the little free time he has left in his schedule, he enjoys spending time with his family, wife of four years, Laura, and their ten-month-old son Max—“the cutest human in the world,” according to Jake—and cheering on the Florida Gators. Just don’t ask him to clean the pig pen.
Fave Five with Jake
- Favorite food: Green chile burritos
- Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption
- Favorite sports team: Florida Gators
- Favorite musician: George Strait
- Favorite place: Moab, Utah