Focus Feature - Follow Up: Aisha Johnson

05 May 2021
Aisha Johnson

As part of our Focus feature series, we sit back down with Aisha Johnson to discuss her recent promotion to Controller. In her new role, Aisha is responsible directing the Accounting department and maintaining Focus’ financials – which as an integrated developer and general contractor – is no small feat.

You started with Focus in 2017, as the Accounting Manager and have since been promoted twice and now oversee the department you joined. What does that promotion mean to you?

The first time I held the role of Controller was back in 2007 for a real estate developer but, after holding the position for two years, the company was downsized and later closed its doors. I then took another position as the Controller for a general contractor where I worked six years. When I left to finish my pursuit of a CPA license, I also worked for a public accounting firm where I gained experience while studying. After obtaining my license, I joined Focus as an Accounting Manager where my experience with both the development and construction sides of the business helped me to be successful. This promotion represents for me a launch back to where I was all those years ago and presents a bright future.

The Accounting department is sometimes the unsung hero of the most successful CRE firms. Beyond keeping the books in order, well run accounting departments can make all the difference for firms in unexpected ways. Take for example, competitive bidding environments, if the billing and payout systems operate with high efficiency our teams can improve trade relationships and garner more competitive pricing, which can be the difference in the firm winning a project or not. Can you talk about how Focus improved that process? How does technology play a role in this?

During the past 4 years with Focus, the company has taken big strides both improving its accounting processes as well as upgrading to new and improved software packages. By utilizing tools like AvidXchange, Timberline Capture and Procore, the team has significantly reduced processing time, improved the draw package and payment process across the board. These improvements have also led to better clarity for our clients and partners and increased efficiencies for our projects.

At Focus, teams pride themselves on their fearlessness in the face of tough projects. Can you talk about one of the most challenging projects in your tenure at Focus and what you learned most? How did your team rise to the occasion?

The most challenging project for me was the Link Evanston due to the complexity of the reporting needs. Throughout the project, teams manually generated reports for draw packages as well as financial statements which was challenging and time consuming. Luckily, the entire accounting team pulled together to ensure that the required documents were precise and provided in a timely manner. I learned that a knowledgeable and cohesive team, that is willing to share in the load for the success of the whole, makes all the difference. Without the support and efforts of my department, the project requirements make have delayed or hampered the project but instead we were able to deliver the project successfully.

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