From the Music Business to the Apartment Industry...
This is part one of the weekly series featuring the profiles of African American leaders in the apartment industry throughout Black History Month. An initiative of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, these interviews aim to highlight our existing leaders and promote inclusion within our organization.
We were lucky enough to meet (virtually, of course!) with Bruzenskey Bois, Community Manager with The Central on Orange Lake, managed by People Places, LLC. Bruzenskey is a fresh face to BAAA but has enthusiastically jumped right in and even jokes about having a BAAA tattoo on his arm to signify his level of commitment. An Education Committee member and new to the D&I committee, Bruzenskey is light-hearted and easy to talk with.
Q: Tell us how you got started in the apartment industry.
A: Like most everyone else, it was an accident. You either love it or hate it and thankfully for me, I ended up loving it more than I ever thought and made it my career. Leaving the music industry behind, I began at Bainbridge where I first realized I wanted to become an owner. Alda Falco, Jared Miller, and Rick Giles fostered my ambition at every turn. My journey then took me to ZRS Management, where I learned so much, and now to my current management position at People Places, LLC. I’ve learned that name and reputation are very important since this is such an incestrial industry. Being the Black guy named Bruzenskey - your actions easily follow you. My brand is important to me.
Q: The music industry! How did your previous experience there help prepare you for a career in property management?
A: It has been a tremendous help. From being able to talk to people of differing backgrounds to budgeting to marketing. I was a Marketing Director and Tour Manager for a record label and often put out fires the same way we do in property management. You don’t cry over spilled milk, you move on and make things happen and need to always remain calm and solutions-oriented. I bring the same professionalism to each community that I once brought to artists in the music industry.
Q: As a whole, how do you feel the rental housing industry is doing in its D&I efforts?
A: Candidly, terrible. However, these types of conversations are so helpful. That is not to discredit those who have taken the first step, like starting the D&I committee. I understand it is not easy. I remember thinking back in my career that I would never get any further because I am Black. I felt like I could make my way up, but only so far. When we look up to top decision-makers, how many of them are Black? I believe there are so many talented people out there and it’s important for us to showcase the property management industry for having career opportunities and then promote those talented people. I want to create more opportunities in the industry for people who look like me.
Q: If you could give your younger self a piece of advice when first beginning your career in Property Management, what would it be?
A: I wouldn’t be as vocal about my ambitions to be an owner and trying to move up in the industry. Looking back, it inhibited me because it was probably perceived at the time that I would leave my position or become competition. In actuality, I just wanted to learn and keep growing.
Q: What does Black History Month mean to you?
A: I don’t subscribe to the term “Black History Month.” I understand the intentions but thinking that for only 28 days we get acknowledgment, doesn’t seem right. I live Black History every day and for me, it divides us instead of unites us. We’re all Americans.
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: Time travel. How cool would that be?!
Q: What are you most proud of and/or trying to achieve?
A: To make my mom and my sister proud and be the best parent that I can be.
If you haven't had the opportunity to meet Bruzenskey, make sure you do. He is dynamic and one of the future leaders of BAAA and this industry. He is on a mission to transform the way apartment communities interact with their neighborhoods, and with his drive he is sure to succeed!