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How to future proof your portfolio & your culture with Edi Demaj and Ilene Goldfine


In this episode of the Propcast, host Louisa Dickins discusses how to future proof your portfolio and nurture a robust company culture with Edi Demaj, co-founder of KODE Labs, and Ilene Goldfine, SVP and Chief Digital Strategy Officer of Hines. They explore how a change in people and culture can help address the pace of innovation and, ultimately, impact profitability, efficiency and sustainability. 

Edi shares how a small building operating system can transform the way real estate is managed and experienced. Ilene dives deep into how two very different types of businesses can facilitate a healthy, inclusive, and innovative culture, as well as a strong partnership. The episode highlights the importance of collaboration, agility, and diversity in driving change and successfully navigating the evolving landscape of the real estate industry. 

Tune in to hear innovative strategies for future-proofing real estate portfolios and cultivating a dynamic company culture. 


Shout outs 

  • Naqash Tahir, Executive Director – Global CIO Office at PGIM Real Estate 
  • Imran Nasir, Head of Client Delivery for Europe, Asia Pacific & Latin America at PGIM Real Estate 


Episode Highlights 

  • Edi and Ilene’s common mission of driving change and innovation in the real estate industry 
  • How KODE Labs and Hines have created a successful partnership 
  • A cloud-based smart building operating system, and the significance of data in driving efficiency and innovation 
  • How flexible and diverse cultures foster innovation and collaboration 
  • The importance of a listen-first mentality, cultural contribution and diversity of thought 
  • What the future holds for KODE Labs, Hines and the wider real estate industry 


Key Takeaways 

  • The real estate space functions completely differently from anything else around us. Our view is that it needed to get on par with everybody else with all the other industries. – Edi 
  • One of the reasons that did away with the word ‘innovation’ is because the mindset of Hines is that we’re constantly innovating. – Ilene 
  • We’re big believers that if automotive companies can make autonomous moving vehicles, then standing buildings can be autonomous as well. – Edi 
  • We have an aging industry of people at buildings that are going to retire. You have to meet the people where they’re at. You need to think to yourself, what am I doing differently in the real estate industry to attract some of these people? – Ilene 
  • What we’ve done over the last six years is that we’re now in thousands of buildings, and what we’ll do over the next six years, is that we’ll be hopefully in hundreds of thousands of buildings. – Ed 


About our guests 

Edi Demaj  

Edi Demaj is one of the Co-Founders of KODE Labs and one of the key contributors to the vision and roadmap for the company. He has worked in the real estate industry for over 15 years, where he was involved in starting and growing tech companies within the real estate industry, as well as acquisition, leasing, management and development of different assets. Edi has also recently been awarded Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2023 Michigan and Northwest Ohio Award.   

KODE Labs  

Founded in Detroit, KODE Labs delivers a data centric, intuitive, ROI driven operating system and an unrivalled client experience that transforms how real estate is managed and experienced. Its smart building operating system, KODE OS, utilizes a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model to standardize and optimize building performance. KODE has been recently selected as the Best Tech Innovation in Intelligent Buildings at Realcomm IBCOn 2023 and a Tech Pioneer Class of 2023 by the World Economic Forum.  


Ilene Goldfine 

Currently responsible for leading all Hines’ efforts on establishing goals and objectives for how technology (and the resulting data) will be implemented and used to achieve the firm’s strategic objectives, Ilene has been with Hines in a variety of roles since January 1998.   These roles included property accounting, fund controllership and investment mgmt. reporting/analysis.  In addition, she assisted with the global rollout of the JDE property mgmt./accounting and consolidation systems.        

In 2015, she transitioned into her role as the lead of the Business Technology Group (BTG) which was established to create a common framework on which to build a robust investment and property management platform.   In April 2022, Ilene became head of the newly formed Global Digital Strategy Group. This newly created organization is comprised of the Business Process (formerly BTG), Data & Analytics, and Information Technology Groups.   The Hines GDSO mission is to create a global data and technology platform that empowers their employees’, engages their clients and partners, optimizes their operations, and continuously transforms our products
and services.  


Hines is a global investment manager and passionate steward of investment capital, properties, portfolios, and the planet. Hines creates a more livable, sustainable future through real estate. At Hines, we seek to set and surpass the highest standards of stewardship in service to investors, landlords, occupiers, and communities.  We strive to consistently deliver high-quality real estate, competitive returns, and breakthrough innovations because we put relationships with our people, our clients, and communities first.  


About Our Host 

Louisa Dickins 

Louisa is the Co-Founder of LMRE, which has rapidly become the market-leading global built environment recruitment platform and search consultancy, specializing in finding the best strategic talent for the most innovative organisations in PropTech, ConTech, Smart Buildings, ESG, Sustainability and Strategic Consulting with operations across North America, United Kingdom, Europe, Asia-Pacific and MENA. 

To promote the industry she is so passionate about, Louisa set up the Global podcast ‘The Propcast’ where she hosts and invites guests from the built environment space to join her in conversation about innovation. 

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