Changemakers Series Sep20

Changemakers Series

Charlie Trefzger is no stranger to change. Already this year, as president and CEO, he oversaw the rebrand of his company from Affinity Living Group to ALG Senior. At the same time, he reorganized his company’s operational structure. ALG communities now have more autonomy in how they operate, able to make decisions and take action without a set directive from headquarters. That’s not to say that Trefzger and his team don’t support their communities, however. When the coronavirus first started making news, they instituted change after change to ensure resident safety. They reacted fast thanks to having prepared well in advance just for this sort of emergency. “We implemented a pandemic flu policy some time ago. Since, we have tailored it to the COVID-19 policy, which is founded upon the CDC guidelines,” said Trefzger. “We’ve been drilling and practicing that for a good portion of the last year, and Lord have mercy, here we are right now dealing with it.” In recognition of the transformations Trefzger has driven, Senior Housing News has inducted him into the 2020 class of Changemakers. Read on to learn what steps ALG took to slow the spread of COVID-19 and how he believes the pandemic will impact senior living going forward. What have been the biggest changes that ALG Senior has made since COVID-19 hit in mid-March? Gosh, what hasn’t changed? There have been so many things that we’ve had to adapt to, such as visitation; narrowing our network of health care professionals; gathering data and having a greater reliance on data; the screening of our employees; using technology, both for visits as well as data-gathering and for activity programs; the need to address loneliness in our residents and trying to be innovative with visits. Probably our biggest change...

Fostering Leadership

Like many engineering students, Neharika Jha wasn’t completely sure about her concentration. At the time, she chose computer science engineering. “Not paying too much attention to computer courses taught in school didn’t help initially,” she laughs. But with time, Neharika realized how computer science solved a variety of real-life consumer and business problems. “I realized the positive impact I could have with my learned skills,” she says. “A smartphone today is a million times faster and more efficient than the computers used for the Apollo 11 mission, enabling our first step onto the surface of the moon. This thought of connecting present with past and wondering where it would take us in the future keeps me very excited about the path ahead.” Her knowledge of the computer sciences helped her land a job, but her leadership skills have helped her forge a career and create a legacy at Yardi. Helping clients prepare for the future Neharika joined Yardi immediately after receiving her degree from Pune University. It was 2008, the peak of the financial crisis, and she considered herself fortunate to secure employment. A software company that hired during a recession bode well for her and the organization. “I believed that the company must have very sound fundamentals to be recruiting in those times,” she recalls. “And 11 years later, I can’t thank Yardi enough for the opportunity to join this wonderful organization and be a part of its growth both as a contributor and a beneficiary.” Neharika is currently a manager for an International Practice Global Solutions team. The unit builds, manages and strengthens Yardi’s relationship with some of its biggest clients including Cushman & Wakefield, CBRE and Prologis to name a few. “As a team, we promote the continuity of the clients’...

Changemakers Series Sep01

Changemakers Series

The past decade has been one of extensive change for the senior living industry. In the wake of the Great Recession, many organizations reorganized and consolidated to adapt. The following years saw steady growth and new construction. Now, in the present day, the pandemic is driving transformation and action at a never-before-seen pace. John Cochrane, president and CEO of non-profit HumanGood, has led his company through all of it, adjusting course when needed to better serve their communities. In his Changemaker interview with Senior Housing News, he opens up on his experience. “In a curious way, I think that the economic crisis was a turning point for the industry, and certainly for our company, in creating urgency and creating the need for clarity and accountability,” Cochrane said “That’s where a lot of what we’re doing today started, more than 10 years ago.” With its impact on the industry, COVID-19 has made it clear that speed, transparency and accountability are necessities. Keep reading to discover how HumanGood responded and what Cochrane and his team are doing to successfully adapt to disruption. First, this year has brought unprecedented change. How has HumanGood responded? The pandemic has changed the world, bringing new challenges on how to protect our communities, team members and residents. Operationally, we have sharpened our focus on infection control protocols, communications and technology solutions. The pandemic has shined a big spotlight on our ability to operate safely while continuing to provide an on-brand experience in this dynamic environment. One of the biggest changes we have made, and continue to refine, is to tracking and testing for COVID-19. The ability to trace and test will impact our industry’s ability to provide the services, and care, that can help our residents and team members live their...

Changemakers Series Aug10

Changemakers Series

The pandemic has impacted every segment of the housing industry, but it poses an even higher risk for the most vulnerable in our society. Safe, secure and stable housing has never been more essential. David Block is the director of development for the Evergreen Real Estate Group, which builds, acquires and manages affordable and market-rate multifamily communities across the Midwest. Their portfolio comprises a large number of independent senior living communities, and the company has excelled in adaptive reuse. That is, converting older buildings like hospitals into subsidized communities for those in need. Welcomed by local agencies and appreciated by residents, these unique projects have also caught the attention of Senior Housing News. They’ve given Block the title of Changemaker and interviewed him for his insights on innovative housing solutions as well as the company’s COVID-19 response. Keep reading for excerpts from the talk. Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected Evergreen’s senior housing business? Do you think that it could lead to any longer-term changes in senior living? It’s been all hands on deck for our entire team. We have a portfolio of about 10,000 units [including] total units that we own, units that we manage for others, and of that, I think a little more than half are seniors. Our property management side has been working very hard to make sure that the senior sites, in particular, are secure. We’re not limiting visitors yet because these are, by and large, independent living facilities. They’re apartment buildings. They’re not health care facilities like those that have been hardest hit. We’re certainly sending out information to our tenants. We’re making sure that our staff are trained in the hygiene and the protocols that are out there to try to slow the spread of this virus. We’re...

Changemakers Series Jul31

Changemakers Series

Doing things differently is part of what separates Changemakers from the pack. At Priya Living, Founder Arun Paul fully lives up to that expectation. He’s built Indian-inspired independent living communities that bring together not just older adults but people of all ages, races and religion. “When the young people would come in, we started hearing those comments like, ‘This place, we love it. Could we live here if we wanted to?’ We said, ‘We have vacant units, and we need to fill them. Yes, sure. Why not?’” said Paul. Priya Living now has three communities in California with a fourth on the way. They’ve instituted an a la carte model for services, where residents can use their smartphones to request food, care, transportation and other necessities. This willingness to try new approaches has also helped them adapt safely to the pandemic. They were taking steps in the first week of March to prevent the spread of infection, and so far no one in their communities has contracted the virus. In this excerpt from his Changemakers interview with Senior Housing News, Paul describes how COVID-19 affected their business and how they’ve responded to keep residents healthy and happy. How have you had to change operations due to Covid-19? We put a pause on programs and activities and enhanced disinfecting, cleaning and restricted visitation. We did that starting March 6, and then March 16, the Bay Area implemented a region-wide shelter in place. We’ve been fortunate. Knock on wood, we haven’t been impacted in terms of any cases in communities. Do you think Covid-19 will lead to lasting changes in how Priya operates? After that initial phase, we started to look at how we could start to bring our programming back, but use digital distribution for...

Tech Knight Jul28

Tech Knight

When you think of a knight, do you imagine him perched atop an ergonomic office chair? Does he don a headset, wield a mouse and fry fish dinners for those in need? If not, you’ve got a lot to learn about modern knights. Larnoe Dungca is a knight who embodies versatility, strength and compassion in unexpected ways. Starting a career at Yardi Dungca’s career with Yardi humbly began 13 years ago. After his previous company closed, he attended a job fair in Ventura and submitted his resume for a web developer position. Fast-forward and Dungca is now a RENTCafé technical analyst. He assists RENTCafe account managers in CPG Practice Group SB5 as well as other teams. Basically, he helps those who help others. “I really enjoy the satisfaction I get when issues are resolved,” says Dungca.  “I love to imagine the smiling faces of RENTCafé account managers when they say ‘thank you so much!’” Through his work, account managers receive the troubleshooting and guidance needed to solve the toughest software problems that clients face. A knight in a techie’s clothing Dungca is a bit of a hero to our account managers and the clients that they serve. He’s also a hero to his local community—he’s a knight, actually. For a decade, Dungca has volunteered with the Knights of Columbus Council 9969 Holy Cross Catholic Church in Moorpark. The group consists of about 150 men who host regular fundraising and outreach events for the community. One of his most memorable events was the Special Olympics Softball Tournament. “This was my favorite event,” says Dungca. “We made sandwiches for all players, umpires and staff that day at the park. It was great to see all of their cheer while they enjoyed the sport that they loved.”...

Changemakers Series Jul24

Changemakers Series

Leaders in senior living know that you need to take steps to stay ahead of change, even when things might seem normal in the moment. The earlier you act, the better off you’ll be. That idea is a core practice for Richard Hutchinson, CEO of Discovery Senior Living. Throughout his decades’ long career, he’s taken innovative approaches to sales and data that have produced measurable results. And when the coronavirus first began making headlines in January, he started procuring as much PPE as he could for his communities, well before local health authorities were raising alarms. For these reasons and more, Hutchinson was recently recognized as a Changemaker by Senior Housing News. The interview series, sponsored by Yardi, highlights leaders across the industry who are helping to shape the future of senior living. In the excerpts below from his interview, Hutchinson shares his take on how the senior living industry faces change and what it means to be innovative. He also talks about Discovery’s proactive measures to keep residents and staff safe from COVID-19. You’ve mentioned that the industry is set in its ways, and also that the consumer is changing rapidly. Do you think the industry is changing fast enough? No, I don’t think so. I don’t know that many industries are changing fast enough, and it’s the pace and the tempo of consumer behavior and the way the consumers not only want to purchase things incrementally, but generational changes and technology changes, that make it difficult to keep pace. The fundamentals of our industry have been great, so [we have] the good-bad equation. The good news when you have such a great supply-demand equation is that you’ll end up with people who can replicate other people’s product and services and do quite...

Changemakers Series Jul18

Changemakers Series

Will my loved one be happier and healthier in senior living or at home? It’s a question many families are asking themselves now during the pandemic. They’ve seen headlines about case numbers, but they also know they can’t provide the care and attention needed by themselves. “If COVID has taught us anything, it has taught us that we are health care, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be health care in the traditional sense of a hospital or a nursing home,” said Brenda Bacon, president and CEO of Brandywine Living. “We have to be able to convince the public or customers that their loved one will be safe and secure in addition to being happy.” A former board chairman for Argentum, Bacon has a lot of insight into the challenges and opportunities of senior living. She’s taken that unique experience to Brandywine, where she strives to make their communities the right mix of “health care and hospitality and fun.” Bacon has been recognized by Senior Housing News as a Changemaker for her contributions to the industry, and during her interview, she opened up on the difficulties posed by the coronavirus – as well as her strategies for keeping it at bay. Check out these excerpts to see how Brandywine is keeping its residents happy and healthy. What needs to be done to achieve that safety and security you’re thinking about? Any operational changes you’re implementing at Brandywine? On April 4th, we instituted a rule that says “one job only.” In the healthcare industry, employees traditionally work in two or three different healthcare institutions; they’ll work a shift at a skilled nursing and then they’ll go to an assisted living or the hospital, the doctor’s office. Nurses and care managers tend to have...

H.J. Russell & Co. Jul10

H.J. Russell & Co....

Imagine that you’ve enjoyed your home for decades: your kids’ growth charts are on a doorframe in the kitchen, you know your neighbors, and your favorite restaurants all know you by name and order. The neighborhood isn’t what it used to be, but it’s your home. Within a matter of years, a wave of new investments transforms your neighborhood. The cost of living increases and property taxes soar. You can no longer afford the home that you’ve nearly paid off, and you face eviction. That is the reality for many long-term residents of metro Atlanta neighborhoods. Neighborhood ascent, or gentrification, is the process of renovating communities that have experienced disinvestment. Through the process, crime rates drop, property values increase, infrastructure and services often improve. Gentrification, however, comes with grave disadvantages for existing residents including higher rents, higher property taxes, exclusion and discrimination. Yardi client H.J. Russell & Co. is an Atlanta-based firm that conducts construction, program management, and property management. It is aligned with sister real estate development firm Russell New Urban Development L.L.C. Together, they fight gentrification and nurture diverse neighborhoods through strategic projects and partnerships. Atlanta gentrification: an ongoing battle for “home” Atlanta is one of the nation’s largest cities for African Americans with 51.85% of the population identifying as Black or African American. It is also among the top 5 fastest gentrifying cities in the U.S. Several benefits come when investors support a brighter vision for a community. Unfortunately, that vision rarely implements practices that reduce out-migration and encourage long-term affordability. Longstanding residents are often excluded from the vision and priced-out of their homes. Neighborhood ascent does not necessitate segregation or displacement. With strategic planning and real estate firms such as H.J. Russell, neighborhoods can benefit from investment without ousting existing...

Changemakers Series Jul09

Changemakers Series

Due to COVID, some older adults and their families are hesitant on the idea of assisted living. But in many cases, and especially so for seniors with cognitive impairment, the level of care required for safe aging is only available in a community setting with skilled caregivers. “At this particular time of coronavirus, we’re working in a very fearful environment, and that’s where a trusting team benefits by the speed of trust,” said Loren Shook, founder and CEO of Silverado. “A lot of unknowns are being faced by people operating communities like ours and across the country.” Renowned for their standalone memory care communities, Silverado has pioneered research into programs that drive cognitive improvements for residents in early stages of dementia. The organization is often the top pick for referral partners, and the team is willing to take the most difficult cases. Silverado’s commitment to care, no matter the challenge, is helping them overcome COVID. And Shook’s willingness to try new things and continually adapt is why he’s been recognized as a Changemaker by Senior Housing News this year. Read on for excerpts from Shook’s interview with SHN where he discusses the perception challenges posed by COVID, interoperability opportunities with referral partners and the steps Silverado is taking to move forward. Do you see COVID-19 changing memory care specifically or senior living more broadly in more long-lasting ways? I think it’s really heightened the awareness of the buyer of services from us, as to asking, what are our systems for infection control and cleanliness? What are our capabilities for understanding changes in clinical condition for people? Then what do we do, if that’s the case? For some people, they’ll be asking, in a situation like COVID, if there is another pandemic or situation like...

Changemakers Series Jun30

Changemakers Series

The current rate of change in senior living is unprecedented. Even before the coronavirus outbreak spurred extra safety measures, providers were quickly adopting novel models and methods as the boomer generation has grown closer to becoming the core market. Mary Leary, president and CEO of Mather, has driven many such changes herself. A leader with decades of experience on both the for-profit and not-for-profit sides of senior living, Leary is unafraid to forgo tradition in pursuit of something better and bigger. It’s a core reason why Mather, under Leary’s stewardship, has grown from serving 5,400 older adults to nearly 60,000 in the 18 years she’s been at the helm. And it’s also why Leary has earned the title of Changemaker from Senior Housing News. The Changemakers is a Yardi-sponsored series that profiles senior living leaders who’ve helped redefine their industry. Leary’s interview with SHN goes into depth on how Mather has successfully transformed its operations during the coronavirus and what senior living might look like after things return to “normal.” Check out this excerpt from the interview: Obviously, this is something that’s shaping the industry. Is it changing how you are currently thinking about senior living in general? I think COVID-19 will absolutely lead to changes in senior living, and I think that it will speed up the pace of change in a way that is unprecedented. Everything that I do and think about right now is colored by the dramatic changes in our country and communities. I think part of innovating is forgetting, unlearning, dismantling and undoing what one does currently, and that is exactly what is occurring in senior living and our country right now. With virtually everything, the increased velocity and adoption of technology is already impacting everything we’re doing. It’s...

Creating Comunidad Jun28

Creating Comunidad

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Antonio Marquez’ Comunidad Partners’ properties in Sunbelt markets throughout the U.S. were standouts in the affordable housing sector. Not only did they offer safe and affordable residences for families, but residents of the portfolio’s approximately 10,000 units could take advantage of after school programs, health and wellness classes, financial literacy and tax help courses, and more. Featured at a 2018 Fannie Mae conference hosted by The Atlantic and profiled in this exceptional video posted by Affordable Housing Finance, it’s easy to grasp the sense of community that Comunidad Partners created from its start in 2007 – when Marquez founded the company to invest in underserved workforce and affordable housing communities. Asked often about his “why” for such deep community involvement, Marquez says he was motivated by his family background. As immigrants and entrepreneurs, his parents Juan Antonio and Pamela instilled a strong sense of community responsibility in Antonio Jr. His father began his working life as a vineyard worker, but ultimately started one of the nation’s largest distribution networks of Hispanic foods from his garage. His son learned that with a good idea, and a lot of hard work, amazing outcomes could be achieved. After finishing his undergraduate degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California, he began exploring the multifamily industry. “I wanted to provide more than just shelter. These are living, breathing souls and families,” Marquez said. “I really boiled down my ‘why?’ to what I took for granted growing up. My parents made sacrifices and were phenomenal in terms of supporting us and providing a quality roof over our head, food on the table, a good education even though we were a low income family. My ‘Why?’ was to provide these same impactful things to...

Work Life Balance Jun24

Work Life Balance

You know that coworker who always wants to show you pictures of their grandkids? Every successful company has one—and with good reason. Compassionate people draw joy and strength from the success of others! Harding Easley is one such grandfather. His work-life balance and zeal for his granddaughter’s career has helped her latest project become the #1 film in America. Finding balance with Yardi When Easley joined the Yardi team five years ago, he was drawn to the company’s demonstrated prioritization of work-life balance. Today, Easley is an account executive with the Yardi Matrix sales team. He demonstrates how data can empower prospects and clients with the information needed to make better business decisions. From multifamily to commercial properties, he helps clients discover how to assess prospective sights, benchmark performance and target the right market using data and reporting. Learn how Matrix helps you target the right market with the right data. Breaking box office records against the odds Easley’s ability to target the right market carries over to his work outside of the office. The account executive plays a leading role in his granddaughter’s marketing team. Granddaughter Ja’Layah Washington is a professional model and actress. Since the age of six, Easley has helped the starlet establish a presence in the industry. He happily created and manages her website. His skills have helped to successfully catch the attention of the right casting directors at the right time. “I used to be an actor, and I often joke that I gave Ja’Layah my acting skills gene,” laughs Easley. “Her mom was a model as well, so between the two of us Ja’Layah has always had that ‘Disney’ star power from a young age.” The proud grandfather is the biggest marketer and advocate for the film The...

Aspiring to New Heights...

This is an exciting time for the team behind Yardi’s learning management software platform. Formerly known as Yardi eLearning, the product is now called Yardi Aspire, a name which showcases the software’s potentially exceptional benefits for users. At the same time, the features of Yardi Aspire have increased in demand as clients find creative uses for the software to solve 2020’s unique challenges At the helm of the Yardi Aspire team is Patty Evans, director of Yardi Aspire content and support and Yardi corporate training, as well as Yves Hajjar, director of Yardi Aspire product development. Read on to learn more about Evans’ outlook on the recent product changes. Q: Tell us about the change to Yardi Aspire? Evans: Yardi Aspire has evolved over the past several years. It was time for the product’s name to truly reflect the scope of the solution, including all the forward-thinking features designed specifically for the property management industry’s leading learning and content management system. Q: Describe the recent developments that led to the rebrand? Evans: The Yardi Aspire catalog inspires a higher level of engagement than simple “training” videos. We feel that videos can be helpful in quickly transferring information to a student who is already familiar with a concept or for basic topics. I think many would agree when I say that video-based training is a learning style that may not work for everyone. Additionally, the Yardi Aspire catalog contains much more than Yardi software product training content. Approximately 25% of the 1,200+ course library is not about Yardi software at all. We offer nearly 400 courses on compliance, human resources, professional development, safety, leadership, leasing, personal development topics and more. Q: What other features may be important for new users? Evans: We’ve spent time carefully...

Making Dreams Possible...

Many of us have done it. In conversation with a small child, we casually ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But how often do we make sure that child has what they need to succeed? When Samuel J. Ashe II looked around his community, he saw a deficit in educational resources specifically in the areas of math, fine arts and the sciences. As an active mentor, he wanted to support the big dreams of the neighborhood kids, but he couldn’t do it alone. Fortunately, his family and the community stepped in to help. Bringing people to the forefront of business After graduating with his MBA, Ashe joined Yardi as a marketing specialist with the RENTCafe Reach Team. “I have clients all over the country. I manage their digital marketing needs including but not limited to SEO, PPC, and social media management,” he says. Ashe joined Yardi because its corporate culture didn’t feel corporate at all. “Yardi is very people-focused and collaborative,” he says. “We have so many departments, yet I still feel like one big team as we all collaborate to provide superior customer services.” “From day one, I noticed this was a nurturing environment,” adds Ashe. “There was a great deal of energy put into the development of employees, as many of my first days were spent training online in Aspire. That was a breath of fresh air compared to a past of ‘figure it out’ job trainings. Over time, there have been more opportunities to improve upon my already solidified strengths and certifications coursework.” The Ashe Arts & STEM Academy: Representation matters Yardi’s focus on employee development resonated with Ashe, who is the Executive Director of The Ashe Arts & STEM Academy. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit supports the...

Changemakers Series Jun05

Changemakers Series

Nowadays, keeping an entire senior living community healthy requires stringent protocols, adequate PPE and, crucially, a dedicated team willing to take every step necessary. As part of their Changemakers series, Senior Housing News has been interviewing influential leaders in senior living, discussing innovation and asking for their insights on the industry’s challenges — including COVID-19. It’s a showcase of thought leaders, risk-takers and trend-setters, sponsored by Yardi. But, as our newest honoree makes clear, success in preventing an outbreak doesn’t rest solely on a leader’s shoulders. The second member of the Changemakers 2020 class is Dwayne Clark, founder and CEO of Aegis Living. Clark has over three decades’ experience in senior living. He rose through the ranks at Leisure Care and Sunrise Senior Living before starting Aegis 20 years ago in Seattle, looking to offer a combination of novel designs, disruptive operational concepts and exceptional care. Since then, Aegis has become a nationally known, award-winning provider. Despite his own accomplishments, Clark attributes a large part of Aegis’s success to his team and culture. “From the very beginning, we stood apart to be a very different kind of company, starting with the kind of people we hire. I think over 90% of our people come from the hospitality industry,” he said. “The bridge to get to your customers is your staff, especially your line staff. You’ve got to make those people delighted in their job every day. That is the whole point, and this [distinction] has been incredibly important to us.” And that commitment hasn’t wavered during the coronavirus outbreak. In this excerpt from the SHN interview, Clark expands on Aegis’s COVID-19 response, sharing how they’ve supported staff so residents continue to receive great care. How have you been able to attract that talent? What...

Dubai Asset Management Jun04

Dubai Asset Management

More than 100,000 Dubai residents rely on 10 housing communities, ranging from studio apartments to luxury villas, owned by Dubai Asset Management (a subsidiary of Dubai Holding). The subsidiary of Dubai Holding developed its portfolio of 20 million square feet of leasable assets by providing the best customer experience in terms of product, pricing and location, and resident services. Maintaining outstanding customer service as communities, headcount and staffing grow larger isn’t easy. Company leaders realized that retaining stature as Dubai’s premier provider of residential property required better technology and increased staff efficiency in the form of real-time property availability, online leasing, rent payments and resident self services, along with 24/7 online and mobile access to account data. Achieving this goal required a technology platform capable of managing the entire residential lifecycle. In 2015 Dubai Asset Management adopted Yardi Voyager as its property management and accounting platform. Yardi Voyager centralised Dubai Asset Management’s operational, financial, maintenance management and compliance data on a single connected solution. With information easily available online and via remote devices, Dubai Asset Management can show prospective residents real-time apartment unit inventory, including floor plans, which helps the company close leases faster and achieve occupancy targets. The easy access to information also helps the company make and implement better-informed decisions. The full integration of Yardi Voyager with RENTCafé and Yardi Maintenance further enhances Dubai Asset Management’s resident service and staff efficiency. Units available for lease are displayed online as soon as they become available, enabling faster unit turnover. Residents have the convenience of making rent payments online, and the company’s maintenance staff can manage work orders in the field without returning to the office. Leasing agents can close deals as easily in the field as in the office. The portfolio-wide data transparency enabled by Yardi Voyager also enhanced reporting efficiency by reducing the time staff members spend manually compiling data. “Yardi Voyager reduces the friction of moving in, moving out, contacting maintenance and paying rent. These benefits make our communities more convenient and satisfying for our residents and solidifies our reputation as a leading residential services provider in Dubai,” said Mohamed Roushdy, head of technology for Dubai Asset Management. Learn more about Dubai Asset Management at dubaiam.ae/. Learn how Yardi serves property management companies across the Middle East at...

Working Together, Separately May29

Working Together, Separately

An organization’s ability to remain focused and cohesive during social distancing is essential for its success. To do so, Newcastle Limited chose to harness the power of software that fills gaps created by social distancing, offering tools for collaboration, communication, and productivity.  Pre-pandemic business as usual Newcastle Limited is a Chicago-based real estate investment firm specializing in commercial and residential properties. Its localized portfolio consists of 42 residential properties totaling 2,875 units and 55 retail properties with 140 tenants. To support those clients, Newcastle Limited employs 150 staff members, 54 of which operate from the corporate office. Mike Haney, Newcastle Limited CEO, consistently prioritizes the professional development of his team. Prior to the pandemic, the organization implemented Newcastle University via Yardi eLearning for onboarding, training, continuing education and professional development. Once restructured as Yardi Aspire, the additional features within the software  gave new life to Haney’s initiative. Newcastle Limited implemented Aspire at the end of February, and timing couldn’t have been better. The organization had the opportunity to familiarize itself with the revised University before the pandemic encouraged social distancing nationwide. Through Aspire, Newcastle Limited has been able to maintain its focus on professional development in the face of unprecedented change. Aspire: working together, separately In response to social distancing, Newcastle Limited shifted most of its workforce to a remote environment. The real estate investment firm relied on Yardi Aspire to keep the team connected and in sync. Its online learning environment includes communication tools, collaboration opportunities and training event management. Aspire has proven to be a single solution for Newcastle’s remote work needs. Get 6 Pro Tips for Stellar Remote Work Aspire is the only training solution on the market that enables clients to automatically distribute role-based learning plans that cover multiple competency areas including property management software skills, mandatory compliance, company policies, safety, leasing and procedures. At Newcastle Limited, Aspire has helped management better understand the needs, strengths, and opportunities of its employees as they work and learn outside of the office. “We are using the platform for compliance-related initiatives such as policy and procedure updates. This way, we can track who has taken and acknowledged policies,” says Jennifer Smetana, director of learning and development at Newcastle Limited. Scoring measures within the software also provide managers with insights into areas that may need review and further clarification. Additional features have improved the way that Newcastle Limited stays organized and connected with remote employees. “The learning plans and our dynamic ownership for grouping and reporting purposes have had a major impact,” says Smetana. “We also started using the resource containers to house quick guides, article of the week, and the additional links to pages we use often. Everything is quickly accessible in one place so that we stay efficient and organized.” Teamwork, virtual watercoolers and camaraderie During social distancing, the communication and collaboration tools within Aspire demonstrated their value to Newcastle Limited. “We have taken an employee engagement approach to the platform,” she says.  “We launched engagement events such as virtual coffee breaks, contests, games and Wednesdays by the Watercooler to keep our team members connected.” Wednesdays by the Watercooler is a casual event where employees are encouraged to log on together and share in a virtual break. “We connect, tell jokes and do silly activities to stay united,” smiles Smetana. “I feel that Aspire has helped our organization move forward and continue growing. The platform is the foundation for staying connected and has aided in keeping our team members working while being remote,” says Smetana. Join a webinar to discover how Aspire, formerly eLearning, can support your organization during social distancing and beyond....

Approaching New Horizons May27

Approaching New Horizons

As recently as 2012, the proptech industry in Dubai and surrounding markets was limited at best. “Before I joined Yardi back in 2012, there was no local real estate software providers in the market,” explains Said Haider, regional director, Middle East Sales at Yardi. “Customizing legacy platforms was the only available option, which was awful to real estate firms at a certain level.” Finding the tools for intelligent growth During a period of rapid growth, a lack of sophisticated software options hindered efficiency for real estate companies in the region. The rapid success of real estate, especially in Dubai, left owners with growing portfolios and a lack of transparency. Management teams strived to drive revenue without comprehensive metrics on the performance of their properties or competitors. The thriving region needed an accounting and property management software solution that offered scalability, customization, and efficiency. Undoubtedly, it was an excellent time for Yardi to enter the market. Once acquainted with Yardi, Haider knew that he wanted to forge a career with the proptech leader. “I wanted to be part of a driven and professional organization striving to become the best innovative proptech provider. I believed that Yardi can make a big difference in the market and I was ready for the challenge.” Growing with clients in mind It would take eight years for Yardi to gain a solid foothold in the market. The Middle East market required developers to revisit the Voyager platform, creating a more localized solution to support region-specific requirements. With a robust product now on the market, development continues as clients provide feedback. The process encourages a mutually beneficial relationship between software provider and client. Referrals from satisfied clients helped Yardi gain traction in the region. Now, the movement has gained momentum. “Today, more than 100 real estate companies have implemented Yardi solutions across the Middle East. We are expecting this count to double in the next two years,” say Haider. “More than 50% of the retail space in the region is managed on Yardi. We are still growing in the residential market, especially after a successful project implementation with one of the largest fee managers in the Abu Dhabi with more than 60,000 units.” Haider is optimistic about Yardi’s presence in Dubai and what it means for efficient real estate growth in the region. “I am always excited about what I am doing as there is always something new to learn, whether on a professional or personal level.  Management is inspiring!” Beyond the comfort zone Outside of Yardi, Haider is constantly taking on new challenges. He is an avid traveler, swimmer, and marksman. Yet his greatest new challenge is navigating the joys and responsibilities of parenting. “I am a new father, so I have been enjoying fatherhood lately,” he smiles brightly. “My work with Yardi has taught me to be more patient, which was really helpful in parenthood. Yardi is also a great environment that truly supports its employees, so my work-life balance is excellent.” Haider marked the arrival of his child by taking on a new adventure. While enjoying a babymoon with his wife in Kemer, Turkey, they traveled to Tahtali Mountain. Towering at more than 7,759 feet, the mountain offers stunning views of the sea below. The couple captured stunning photos of the Turkish Mediterranean Coast–then Haider became inspired. “It was a bit cloudy that day and I always wanted to fly like birds and feel the clouds since I was a kid. I saw some people paragliding and just felt that I have do to it! The jump is a world-record high of more than 7,700 feet. We go through the clouds and land at the beach. It was a wonderful, 40 minutes in the sky. Well, I like to be adventurous and push my comfort zone, whether at work or in my personal life. This keeps me excited and happy.” Learn more about Yardi career opportunities...

Changemakers Series May26

Changemakers Series

Changemakers is back for 2020 with a whole new class of senior living leaders! Published by Senior Housing News (SHN) and sponsored by Yardi, the series spotlights industry pioneers who’ve taken unique approaches towards shaping the future of senior living. And this time around, these are also leaders who’ve shown what it takes to safely navigate their communities through the current health care crisis. For the first inductee, meet Michael Schonbrun, founder and CEO of Balfour Senior Living. Schonbrun got his start in senior living while researching communities for his mother to live in. He decided he wanted to build one that she herself would love. So in 1997, he founded Balfour in Colorado, and the company has grown steadily since. They now have nine locations, with three more under construction. Prior to senior living, Schonbrun had spent a decade in charge of National Jewish Health, a leading respiratory clinical and health care research center. That experience has helped position Balfour well for the pandemic. From the first signs of trouble, Schonbrun and his team have taken the coronavirus seriously. In this excerpt from the SHN interview, see how Schonbrun’s unique background and proactive measures have kept Balfour’s residents and staff safe. How has COVID-19 impacted Balfour and influenced your thinking — and the industry’s? Do you think people are going to see more value in having on-site health care? The answer to that last question is yes. My first 10 years after getting out of law school I spent in the public health and health care regulatory environment. I think one of the benefits of COVID-19 — if you want to call it that — is that there’s going to be a willingness to invest in public health and to appreciate that, as...