During business school, Bradley Stewart ’04 and many of his classmates planned careers in private equity, investing, real estate, and consulting. At the time, he assumed he would take a fairly traditional post-MBA path.
“Looking back, if you had said I could be a private equity partner or in consulting, I would have said that makes sense,” Stewart says. “But if you had told me I could run a company with hundreds of employees and hundreds of millions in revenue, I would have said no way.”
After working as a consultant for McKinsey & Company, he moved into private equity with Parthenon Capital Partners, where he served on the boards of three different companies, eventually becoming president of one of the organizations, Westcliff Medical Laboratories, in a corporate turnaround. That experience as an owner and private equity investor solidified his focus on what he really wanted to do — direct daily decisions to execute a vision that guides a company to success.
Today, Stewart is president of Xojet, a private jet charter company. Founded in 2006 and owned by TPG, the world’s largest private equity firm, Xojet is one of the fastest-growing private aviation companies in history, serving more than 3,000 customers worldwide. It’s the only private jet company that offers fixed prices for popular flights, and options for customizing flights to meet individual customer needs.
“I love driving a company and being responsible for success and for winning customers; taking an idea, investment, or business plan and seeing that vision through the day-to-day development and growth of a company.” Stewart says. “Xojet represents an incredible opportunity to pursue world-class customer service while managing the challenges of a dynamic asset-management business.”
Stewart says the tools he acquired at Columbia Business School have been invaluable, but that MBA students shouldn’t assume their education stops there. “The Columbia MBA is a ticket to start learning how to be a good business leader,” he says. “Putting yourself in situations five to 10 years after graduation where you continue to learn and grow as a person is so important.”