Jenn Bosser Named to Charlotte Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs List
From Charlotte Business Journal, Jen Wilson, Associate Editor
On June 8, the Charlotte Business Journal recognized local executives at their Most Admired CEO Awards. CBJ‘s Most Admired CEO Awards program recognizes established leaders in the Charlotte region who have demonstrated a strong vision for their companies and a commitment to the community. They have a proven track record of innovation in their field, outstanding financial performance, promoting diversity in the workplace and making an impact that extends beyond the boardroom.
Twenty-nine honorees were chosen for 2023, the program’s sixth year, across more than a dozen industry categories, including:
- BUSINESS ADVOCACY/SERVICES
- COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE
- ENERGY, ENGINEERS
- ARCHITECTS & CONTRACTORS
- FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESSES
- FINANCIAL SERVICES
- HEALTH CARE
- MANUFACTURING & DISTRIBUTION
- PROFESSIONAL SERVICES/MARKETING
- PROFESSIONAL SERVICES/CONSULTING
Each holds the title of chief executive or an equivalent, such as president or managing partner; all are established leaders in their fields who are making significant contributions to the region. They were selected following a nomination process earlier in the year.
Jenn Bosser, President & CEO, Iredell EDC was nominated by her staff and peers and recognized as one of the twenty-nine recipients from across the region. As part of this signature awards program, each recipient shared their smarts on leadership styles, making difficult decisions and recommended reading. They were asked about what their company is doing to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, as well as their first job and what they carried forward from those experiences.
Here are Jenn’s responses.
Describe your leadership style or guiding philosophy and how you put that into action within your organization:
I would summarize my leadership style and guiding philosophy as compassionate and intentional. Compassionate in how I treat people and my approach to complex situations, by taking responsibility as a leader. Sometimes that means having difficult conversations with the intention of finding a path forward and bringing out the best in others. I am intentional by showing up, being present, lifting up others and making contributions that make a difference.
Describe a difficult decision or major change you’ve made as the leader of your company over the past year, how you handled that and how it impacted the business:
In March 2022, we were approached by the County Commissioners to lead and launch Iredell Ready, a new collaborative workforce initiative in partnership with industry, academia, government and the nonprofit community to identify, align and enhance strategic priorities across the workforce development pipeline, from early childhood education to retirement. Over several months, we have been working to build a comprehensive marketing strategy and website that will serve as a resource for students, parents, educators, residents, businesses and community partners in the fall of 2023. Taking on this initiative was a big commitment. It is not just about getting the work done, but engaging various stakeholders in the process, which requires intentionality, patience and perseverance. It has been great to see how the initiative has strengthened partnerships and increased engagement. I’m most excited about the potential it has to grow and serve as a resource to build pathways to a better futures.
Describe your top accomplishment of the past year:
In July 2022, we made Business North Carolina’s list of top 25 projects in the state, with BestCo landing at No. 11, with an announced expansion of $177 million and the creation of 399 jobs, and Sherwin Williams landing at No. 25, with an announced expansion of $347 million and the creation of 183 jobs. In addition, we have supported the announcement of 11.1 million square feet of speculative industrial development, representing new product across the county in all three of our municipalities, Statesville, Troutman, and Mooresville.
How are you prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in your company?
Economic development at its core is about bringing new job opportunities and investment to the community with the goal of achieving prosperity for all. Through our recruitment efforts we are focused on working with existing and new industries to recruit, hire and train workers and create quality, high-paying jobs for our local residents. This takes partnership, working with a variety of workforce partners including our two public schools, workforce development board, community college, public-sector partners, and industry.
What is the top priority for Charlotte to ensure a strong business environment?
As the 2023 chair of the Economic Development Advisory Council for the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, I believe our greatest opportunity is working together to ensure economic competitiveness through marketing the region as Select CLT. Charlotte is at the core of a 14-county region, and we all benefit when the region wins a project. The quality of our labor force, strength of our industry sectors, quality of life and amenities are what attract talent and businesses to locate in our region. We are stronger by working together to tackle issues such as workforce development, equity, mobility, transportation, affordable housing and resiliency.
What was your first job, and what is one lesson you carried forward from that?
My first economic development position was in Washington, D.C., as a member of the business retention outreach team on behalf of Mayor Anthony Williams. My role was to meet with businesses, listen to their concerns and serve as ombudsmen to bring forth resolutions to their concerns. My greatest lesson working in that job was to never underestimate the power you have to make a difference. In my position, backed by funding and direction from the Mayor’s Office, I was a lifeline for businesses that were facing some really tough challenges. That made me really appreciate the value of economic development and our role as problem solvers.
How do you give back to the community?
I believe strongly in mentorship and sponsorship, and I look for ways to support students, young professionals and individuals who are transitioning or looking for that next step in their career. I served for 10 years on a nonprofit board that supported workforce training for people with disabilities. I served as president and on the board of Triangle Commercial Real Estate Women and helped promote the organization’s support of Mentorship Mondays, UCREW and scholarship programs for young women seeking a careers in real estate. Currently, I serve on the Education and Professional Development Council for the International Economic Development Council and, over the past two years, have successfully mentored four candidates in their journey to pass the Certified Economic Development exam, which has a 35% pass rate. I’m proud to say all four of my candidates passed. I serve on a variety of advisory boards at the local, regional and state level, including the Centralina Regional Council, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance and Economic Partnership of North Carolina.
Who inspires you, and why?
My parents. They have an adventurous spirit and provided my brother, sister, and I with a unique perspective of the world. My dad grew up in the projects of Detroit, joined the Air Force out of college and went on to earn his master’s degree in electrical engineering. When I was 2 years old, we moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where my dad was stationed until I was 9. Living overseas provided some the greatest life experiences and memories, and a great appreciation of our democracy. Most importantly, my parents instilled in me a strong faith in God and a belief that I could achieve anything I put my mind to.
What is something you do for fun?
I love spending time with my family, my husband Robb and our three boys. We are a big sports family and we are either playing or watching sports together. I also love spending time outside, planting flowers in the garden or taking a walk.
What is one of the best books you’ve read recently, and why?
Reputation Shift, by Mike Mooney. Mike had a career in the racing industry and wrote a book about the importance of reputation and strategies you can use to build, strengthen, and protect your reputation. The book provides some good reflections and exercises throughout.
What is your best advice for future leaders?
Be authentic and intentional. Success is a result of small intentional decisions, commitment and habits that ultimately lead to incredible outcomes. I encourage future leaders to be empathetic, maintain a growth mindset, and don’t be afraid to take risks. If you fail, learn from your mistakes, but don’t let them define you. Be a helper; take the initiative to help others. Never stop learning; knowledge is power.