BTU #4 – Brad Bonney – Business School, Confidence, and a Startup Rollercoaster

“What I didn’t know [when I was first getting out of the Navy] was how prepared and equipped veterans are as they’re transitioning for an unbelievable number of roles within corporate america.”

– Brad Bonney

Brad Bonney grew up in Kansas City and in 8th Grade decided to attend the Naval Academy. He graduated from USNA in ’05, went to Stanford University to get his MS in Electrical Engineering, and then joined the submarine pipeline. After five years of service on the USS Jefferson City, he left the Navy to attend the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

After graduating from Stanford (for the second time), Brad joined AirBnB as one of their first thousand employees. Since then, he has seen the company triple in size, as he serves as a manager on their Trust & Safety team (with over 200 employees).

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • His decision to leave the Navy, and how he thought about the Reserves
  • How he decided to go back to grad school again
  • Advice on applying to a top tier business school
  • Thoughts about Executive Education programs
  • How he decided to join AirBnB, and how he got his foot in the door
  • What is day-to-day life like at a high-growth internet startup
  • What has been the most surprising aspect of civilian life
  • And much, much more…

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QUESTION OF THE DAY: How can I make these episodes more valuable to active duty military personnel considering transitioning to the civilian world? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • [3:03] – Personal, USNA and Navy background
  • [3:35] – Stanford MS experience
  • [4:23] – Decision to transition from the Navy
  • [5:08] – Decision process for not joining the Navy Reserves
  • [5:55] – Deciding to get another degree
  • [7:20] – Choosing Business School over other grad programs
  • [8:23] – Why Stanford & the application process, how to evaluate the value of business school
  • [9:45] – Advice for applying to Stanford (and Business School in general) and what not to do
  • [12:10] – Advice to active duty military thinking of applying to Business School in several years
  • [13:40] – considering Executive Education vs. Full Time grad school
  • [15:08] – Understanding what you’re buying with an MBA experience
  • [15:48] – AirBnB description & joining a high-growth startup
  • [17:43] – What day-to-day job looks like
  • [19:13] – Team size and composition
  • [19:48] – Travel
  • [21:10] – Hours
  • [22:29] – Perks & Paternity Leave
  • [25:18] – Vacation
  • [26:29] – Choosing an Industry and deciding on AirBnB
  • [29:03] – Preparing for Interview, and the interview process
  • [31:18] – Deciding on the size of the company
  • [33:08] –  Difference in management in civilian life vs. the military
  • [36:58] – Advice to current college students planning a transition to civilian life
  • [38:23] – Advice to officers thinking of getting out of the military in the next 1-2 years
  • [40:16] – Most surprising aspects of transition from active duty