Elizabeth Volini

Executive Director, IT ePMO, JLL

Supernova Award Category: 

Future of Work - Employee Experience

The Organization: 

JLL is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Their vision is to reimagine the world of real estate, creating rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces where people can achieve their ambitions. They aim to build a better tomorrow for their clients, people, and communities. The company has 93,000+ employees globally and serves clients in more than 80 countries. Expert teams deliver integrated services to help real estate owners, occupiers, and investors meet current and future goals. JLL is dedicated to elevating the real estate industry through technology-based innovation. To that end, the JLL team is currently going through a major digital transformation, transitioning from siloed regional work teams to a global paradigm.

The Problem: 

Like most businesses around the world, JLL faced major challenges when the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic hit in March 2020—the real estate industry in particular was hit extremely hard. While the company had a strong remote work infrastructure and culture in place pre-pandemic, leadership had to move quickly to establish business continuity in a dramatically impacted industry. Many employees had to work from home for the first time, creating massive change and disruption. 


In order for JLL to overcome new hurdles to the business, staying connected became a central keystone for success. Teams became 100% remote overnight. They had to dig deep and rely on their leaders to exemplify and cultivate resilience—and smart use of their tech stack—if they were to achieve business results.

The Solution: 

While the challenges brought on by COVID may not be unique to JLL, what sets the company apart is how they responded with empathy in action.  Elizabeth encouraged her team to rely on tech, like Workfront & MSFT Teams, to bridge communication gaps & continue proving value in a remote environment. She dug deep to use tech to innovate ways to keep her team & extended team engaged, connected, and supported, like focusing the 1st 5mins of every conversation on well-being, asking her team to reach out to 5 ppl per day using a tool of their choice (Webex, Teams, email, etc.), encouraging a focus on self-care, ending every week with a positivity round table & deliberately maintaining connections—always with their cameras on to combat isolation. Strategic, channel-sensitive use of tech is critical to enabling a virtual team’s longevity & effectiveness. She'ss demonstrated how tech can support emotionally intelligent & empathic leadership.

The Results: 

Before COVID, tech integration was foundational to Elizabeth’s high-performing IT team. From using Sharepoint to contextualize work, to online tool & PMO process training, tech is ubiquitous to how they operate—& enabling its capability is just part of what they do. Understanding that fact, her team has become MORE productive since adjusting to 100% remote working in response to COVID. Add in a more fluid work-life balance & increased comms via IT tools & platforms, & her people are more focused on the important things. The team has implemented a whole new governance structure for ww projects, enabling transparency, central comm & decision making for a global project portfolio of many 100s of projects. They’ve implemented automation & leveraged tech integrations to create efficiency and data quality. And they’ve implemented cost efficiencies for tools and portfolios to make the most of tech spend in this uncertain environment. Talking on a daily basis, insisting that videos/cameras are on for calls, communicating more with stakeholders, connecting & orchestrating all facets of work, from ppl to data, in a single work management platform with Workfront—all those things have boosted the team’s productivity & engagement. It’s brought them closer together from a collab standpoint, proving that tech can facilitate the kind of people-1st culture that creates biz results.


A few examples of some of the metrics that have changed since the pandemic started: 

  • Worldwide Webex usage tripled overnight 
  • MS Teams was quickly rolled out as a global standard
  • Projects and portfolios and costs were reevaluated as must-do, deferred, and/or cancelled
  • Through austerity measures the ePMO alone was able to identify over $100,000 of cost efficiencies in an effort to remain cost-neutral through the pandemic 
The Technology: 

Before COVID-19, JLL implemented Workfront as their enterprise work management solution and operational system of record. They continue to lean into Workfront while 100% remote. Elizabeth and her team’s techstack includes: Workfront and Fusion, Webex, Microsoft Teams, Sharepoint, Power BI, O365

Disruptive Factor: 

COVID-19 and the consequent shelter-in-place orders massively disrupted not only JLL’s business, but Elizabeth and her team’s work-life balance as well. Elizabeth rose to the occasion by flipping the situation on its head and turning their 100% remote working conditions into an opportunity to increase camaraderie and performance—and she did it through thoughtful and expert use of the right technology at the right time. 

Shining Moment: 

Elizabeth is proud of how she has been able to boil the security question down to a personal level & invest resources accordingly. She is proud of her ability to focus on people—to recognize that well-being, self-care & safety are pivotal to team effectiveness. Being an authentic role-model has created a positive innovation loop that perpetuates itself over & over within her team & their work.

About JLL

JLL is a world leader in real estate services. JLL buys, builds, occupies and invests in a variety of assets including industrial, commercial, retail, residential and hotel real estate. From tech startups to global firms, JLL’s clients span industries including banking, energy, healthcare, law, life sciences, manufacturing and technology.