As President and CEO of Harry Norman, REALTORS®, Jenni Bonura oversees the operations of 13 sales offices while managing partnerships in mortgage, title, and insurance ventures. Taking an active role in every aspect of the business, the Miami native particularly enjoys luxury-home marketing and sales, new-home and high- rise marketing and sales management as well as coaching the current and next generations of sales leaders.
Jenni started her career in real estate in 2002 as a sales agent. From that time, she has embraced various roles in the company. From Marketing Manager to Associate Broker, then Managing Broker to General Manager and on to President and CEO, Jenni has excelled in each position that she has held. During her tenure at North Fulton, the office was a consistent presence in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s List of Top 20 Real Estate Offices in metro Atlanta.
Jenni is married to Don Bonura and they have a son Tyler. As time permits, they enjoy outdoor activities to embrace all four beautiful seasons that Atlanta has to offer.
Learn more about Jenni Bonura in our interview below.
Tell us about your journey, from your first job to your current position as CEO of Harry Norman?
My first job was with Accenture as a Software Developer, which is not exactly a direct correlation to real estate CEO. However, the benefit of having a deep understanding of technology and the programming life cycle has proven highly beneficial in real estate as it would in every industry because so many components of business decisions have a technology impact associated with it. My role after that was Project Manager. Essentially it is a liaison to clients while also managing various facets of projects such as budgets, staffing, timeframes, deliverables, etc. It was a great blend of how to connect with people and how to best operate a business within a microcosm of a broader company. That experience prepared me well for future leadership.
When I made the transition to real estate, all those experiences and skills proved very beneficial. The component that I loved the most at Accenture was building trust with colleagues and clients and being a valuable resource when they were making significant business decisions. That passion carried through to real estate where people are making significant decisions that impact all facets of their life – financial, social, and otherwise. The value of having a trusted and experienced advisor to help navigate such decisions was naturally attractive to me.
You started at Harry Norman roughly 18 years ago, how would you describe the company’s growth during the last two decades? And what was it about the company that created such loyalty in you?
Leaders who demonstrate that they make decisions in the best interest of those whose livelihood depends on them naturally leads to loyalty and trust. It also creates an attractive culture. Growth can be accomplished and more importantly, sustained when trust is the foundation. When asking people to take a leap with you, more people will do so when the right foundation is there, and if the leap lands unexpectedly in a mud puddle, the recovery from it is greater if you have a solid relational foundation. In short, the loyalty to our company really is a direct result of the strong relationships with the people that have formed over the years.
Tell us a bit about your day-to-day – and what you love most about what you do?
Every day is different, but it typically consists of a combination of meetings, conferences, training, and more behind the scenes daily operations. You’d be surprised by the type of things that end up on a CEO’s desk at times! I am constantly thinking about how to develop the people that work at Harry Norman, and how to best motivate them to succeed. We have an incredible team here, and I feel honored to support them in their growth. Setting people up for success and seeing them rise to new levels. That’s one of my favorite parts of the job.
What traits are important for a CEO to have?
As a CEO, you need to be comfortable moving rapidly between big picture strategy and operational detail. Anticipating future impacts or trends and preparing the organization for them. The ability to know when and how to communicate a wide array of messages and the ability to do it well. Demonstrating humility, along with real care and compassion for people. A savvy blend of technological acumen, financial astuteness, and emotional intelligence. And of course, passion. Passion for what you do, and for the results and impact you can make. There are many more, but these are a few of the top traits.
What does success mean to you?
From a career standpoint, the definition of success has changed over the years. Personally, the definition of success has been constant. Career success means enjoying what I do, helping others grow, achieving growth milestones within our company, being able to contribute to people and organizations that make a difference in the world, and still prioritizing meaningful connections with colleagues and family.
What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?
There is not one particular moment. Actually, there are many mini-moments that are most rewarding. The most rewarding moments occur when people share stories with me that their life is better because of some way that I have contributed to their career or their life or both. I am grateful to be surrounded by amazing people who are willing to share that with me. Those moments are motivating and energizing.
Do you have a specific person that’s inspired you or mentored you, that a particular person who has influenced you?
I am grateful to have many positive influences and role models. My parents are foremost, several of my managers throughout my career, and several leaders that I do not know personally but admire. One of which is the founder of our company, Mrs. Emmaline Norman. There was no such thing as a real estate company in Atlanta that specialized in residential services. She identified the need and pioneered the industry for Atlanta and beyond. What is more impressive to me is that she did this in 1930 during challenging economic times, challenging social times for female leaders. As a result, our company is highly respected 90 years later.
How do you balance being a mother, being a wife, and being a CEO – while also taking care of yourself?
That’s a difficult one, there is no formula for this, but everyone has to find a balance that works for them. For our family and us at home, we stay active, love to learn, and our time together is extremely important. I am very diligent about when I schedule events outside of regular working hours and try to keep them to a level where I can enjoy that time with my son and husband. I also enjoy a lot of activities that are related to the industry but not directly part of my daily tasks. For example, I love live video production and find it to be an amazing art. I also enjoy sports and doing activities outdoors, which I do when I have the time. Enjoying these activities help me to stay sharp in -and out- of work.
What advice would you share with others working from home right now during COVID-19? Any tips or words of wisdom?
There are a lot of humorous stories that come with working from home and schooling at home and doing EVERYTHING at home. The best strategies relate to actively pursuing a positive mindset every day and sometimes multiple times during the day. Structure is something that works well for me, so even though the surroundings are different, I try to maintain a routine. Prayer, listening to upbeat music, sometimes something as simple as moving to a different room to work from are all strategies that help.
Is there a quote or song that you most identify with?
Get busy living or get busy dying. It is a quote from the movie Shawshank Redemption. I don’t necessarily love the movie, but I do love the premise of living life to the fullest. It is about giving everything I can to any endeavor.