Bonnie’s ambition and sense of adventure took her around the world. The opportunity to develop a global growth strategy for a Montana tech company brought her back home.
She went to the University of Montana (UM), excited to see the world and focused on finding a career beyond Big Sky Country with a math degree from the Honors program. While she was at UM her academic rigor, unwavering focus, and excellence in the Russian coursework she got her noticed and recruited by the CIA. (Yes, that CIA).
Upon graduation, Bonnie drove across the country to Washington DC and went to work analyzing what was happening behind the Iron Curtain in Mikhail Gorbachev’s Russia. That’s where she gained the intensive analytical skills that fueled a successful business career providing incredibly valuable market insights for some of the world’s biggest brands.
Realizing that DC could never feel like home, Bonnie started exploring options in the business world. While earning her MBA at the University of Virginia she fell in love with helping businesses grow and better serve their customers through consumer strategy. This led to a move to Los Angeles to work in the retail/media/entertainment space with global consulting powerhouse McKinsey & Co.
After five years cutting her teeth on strategy for Fortune 500 companies, she moved to Disney, where she earned the role of VP of Brand Development and spent 22 years defining consumer strategies that brought iconic brands like Marvel, Star Wars, and ESPN to a global audience.
Montana has always been near and dear to Bonnie’s heart, but she assumed she’d have to wait until retirement to return. Her thinking changed entirely during a chance meeting with Submittable’s Founder and CEO Michael FitzGerald.
Bonnie’s in-laws had bought property on Swan Lake near Bigfork back in the mid-1970’s. She and her husband, Andrew, purchased the property over a decade ago and traveled to Montana at least once a month. During one of her visits to Missoula, a former Disney cast member who’d moved back to Montana to take a position with Submittable offered to make an introduction to the growing company’s Founder and CEO, Michael FitzGerald. She put 45 minutes on the parking meter and went in to chat with Michael. Two hours later she was still running out to add time to the parking meter because the two were so deep in conversation about Submittable’s unique product-market fit, opportunities to build clear strategies for growth, and how to provide team members with clear understanding and priorities. She was intrigued by how three creatives—a writer, a filmmaker, and a musician—had launched Submittable and built it into a cloud-based submission management platform that makes it easy to accept, review, and make decisions on any kind of digital content.
Moving to Montana: the right opportunity in the best place.
During that initial coffee conversation, Submittable was in a rapid growth phase and looking for guidance on company vision, strategy, and team alignment. Bonnie’s extensive experience with company-wide growth strategy could provide the clear direction they needed. She worked with Michael to define her new role as the company’s Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, and within a few months it became clear that moving back to Montana full-time was the right next thing to do.
So far she’s loved wrapping her head around all of the opportunities for growth. But she’s most impressed by the level of talent and dedication she’s found in the team members up through the company’s leadership team. And, unlike so many of Silicon Valley firms, there’s not just a singular focus on profit. Submittable truly has heart, and a desire to contribute to the community. Work-life balance is a real thing instead of a catchy phrase used for recruiting.
The Missoula Bonnie left over 30 years has grown in leaps and bounds, giving her the opportunity to come home without sacrificing her career. But the core of what she loved about her home state remains the same.
Today, Bonnie splits her time between Submittable’s Missoula headquarters, and a home office overlooking Swan Lake. She loves seeing the new career opportunities being created by a thriving academic community and a growing startup economy – and she loves being able to continue her career while also taking her kayak out on the lake within seconds of walking out the back door.