Joelle Denham: Transforming business operations through strategic technology integration

Joelle Denham, CFO, The Bulfinch Companies

BOSTON- Joelle Denham is the first-ever Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Bulfinch Companies, Inc. and oversees the accounting, performance measurement and reporting of the Boston-area real estate investment firm for retail, multi-family, office and industrial/development accounts worth $4.3 billion in real estate value. Since joining Bulfinch, she has led the strategic planning and redevelopment of Bulfinch’s financial reporting team, as well as business planning for the company’s portfolio of more than $3.6 billion in assets.

Photo: Cambridge Discovery Park, Cambridge, MA – © Aerial Boston

As CFO, Denham leads the strategic planning and development of Bulfinch’s financial reporting and business planning and plays a hands-on role in the day-to-day accounting process, working closely with Bulfinch’s owners and the accounting and financial reporting team. As a member of Bulfinch’s Senior Leadership Team, Denham serves as a strong female role model and mentor to young professionals. She serves on several of Bulfinch’s committees, including the Investment Committee, the Valuation Committee, the Asset Management Committee and the Technology Committee (where she was elected Co-Chair).

In her new role as Co-Chair of the Technology Committee, she leads the evaluation and implementation of new technology integrations. Ms. Denham successfully helped lead the implementation of Yardi, a property management software that has transformed the way Bulfinch does business while supporting the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship through paperless operations. The implementation of Yardi allowed Bulfinch to continue as usual during the pandemic with a distributed workforce, which played a key role in honoring Bulfinch with the Robert S. Swain Award at the 2021 REFA Gala.

Photo: 117 Kendrick Street, Needham, MA – © Robert Benson Photography

Denham has over 20 years of experience and was previously Vice President of AEW Capital Management LP, where she served on AEW’s Real Estate Technology Counsel and as a judge on Chris Kazantis’ Real Estate Challenge Board. She received the AEW Distinguished Service Award in 2020 and 2014 in recognition of exceptional work and great attitude. Ms. Denham is passionate about giving back to her profession and community. She is an active participant on the REFA Programs Committee, recently graduated from the KPMG Executive Leadership Institute for Women and serves as a judge on Suffolk University’s ENT 101 Business Foundations course. Outside of work, she sits on the board of directors of Half Percent Project and volunteers with Little Paws Dachshund Rescue and the Sophia Grace Foundation.

The Bulfinch Companies, Inc. is a third generation value-added real estate investment company specializing in the development, acquisition, management and repositioning of commercial real estate in the Boston area. With over $3.3 billion in assets, Bulfinch has built a reputation for identifying opportunities and creating valuable and desirable real estate across multiple industries. The company’s disciplined approach, entrepreneurial mindset, extensive experience and focus on meeting the needs of both its tenants and the community have resulted in an enviable track record and roster of tenants and investors for over 86 years.

The Boston Real Estate Times asked Joelle Denham a few questions as part of our coverage of the 2022 Outstanding Women in Real Estate Awards.

Boston real estate times: How has real estate changed your life?

Joelle Denham: I loved numbers from a young age and knew I would end up going to college with a business major. Immediately after graduating from Bentley University, I joined the real estate group at Arthur Andersen. It was there that I discovered my first interest in real estate and built my background in public accounting. This experience, coupled with my decision to later pursue a career in the private sector, has enabled me to have a successful 20-year career in the real estate industry and serve on the program committee of the Real Estate Finance Association.

BRET: In your experience, how has the industry changed in recent years in terms of technology, markets and requirements?

JD: The pandemic has had a significant impact on the CRE industry, changing the way we work and do business. This impact has accelerated the adoption of new technologies to work more efficiently.

I have had the pleasure of overseeing the implementation of several new software platforms such as Yardi over the past few years which are transforming the way Bulfinch does business and helping create efficiencies to optimize productivity.

As Co-Chair of our Technology Committee at Bulfinch, my proudest moment was the successful implementation of Yardi, a property management software that has transformed the efficiency of our business and the way we work. One of the benefits Yardi has provided is accelerating our effort to become fully paperless, particularly for accounts payable, which supports Bulfinch’s mission and commitment to environmental and sustainable responsibility. Yardi has also been an important tool during the pandemic, allowing our team to continue as usual with a distributed workforce.

The environment, social issues and corporate governance will continue to be a focus for companies, particularly through the implementation of new technologies that allow more data to be collected and analyzed.

Finally, the need to create diverse, equitable and inclusive environments for all is the foundation for the future of development. At Bulfinch, I am proud to be part of a team committed to meeting the needs of all of our stakeholders – our team, our tenants, investors, partners and the community.

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