Having been born, raised and schooled in California, Jordanna Ferreira was skeptical in 2010 when she got a call from a recruiter about a job opportunity in Boston at a developer called The Davis Cos.
“I said, ‘No, thank you, I’m not interested in going to Boston,’” Ferreira said. “It was not a small move to relocate a family, particularly all the way across the country. I had no connections, didn’t know anybody and hadn’t done any business in Boston before.”
The UC Berkeley grad had built a successful career in the San Francisco Bay area. She served as controller for the campaign of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the mid-’90s, and she had been a principal and CFO at San Francisco real estate investment manager McFarlane Partners. But the recruiter was persistent, and Ferreira eventually flew to Boston to meet with CEO Jonathan Davis, who impressed her with his business acumen.
In the end, the opportunity to become CFO of The Davis Cos. was too good to turn down. Although the commercial real estate market was in the dumps, The Davis Cos. had just formed a new fund unit to take advantage of distressed real estate. And it was looking for somebody with institutional investment management experience to run it.
Today Ferreira leads a department of 20 employees at The Davis Cos., which she describes as a fast-paced workplace with a flat organizational structure. The company’s specialty in complex, value-added transactions requires a creative mindset.
“It’s definitely a place where you need to be nimble and move quickly, and think on your feet,” she said. “I’m always looking for people with potential to grow.”
That interest extends outside the walls of the company. Ferreira is active in the Boston chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network, where she has made contacts and mentored younger members.
The industry has more networking opportunities for women than it did early in Ferreira’s career, but it remains a male-dominated industry. Ferreira said she sees her role as sharing stories and contacts, and offering advice on career advancement.
Hayley Suminski, a 30-year-old CREW member, credits Ferreira with helping her advance to lead lender at Boston-based Hunt Mortgage Group. Before they reconnected through CREW in 2011, the pair met through a cold call that Suminski placed to Ferreira’s office looking to drum up business.
Along with steering business Suminski’s way, Ferreira has encouraged her to be aggressive in pursuing opportunities to build experience, such as attending out-of-town conferences.
“She makes connections very quickly and she’s had a remarkable impact on the local business community in a short period of time,” Suminski said.