Meet Charlotte Bradley: A fireside chat with Ontra’s new VP of Product

January 24, 2024
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What made you most excited about the opportunity to join Ontra?

I felt this amazing energy when talking with folks from Ontra — there was a clear passion and excitement around the future opportunity, and a sense that each person owned a key part of making the future happen. I’m excited by AI’s potential to bring efficiencies to our customers in this space and getting to work with such a talented team to solve these fun problems.

What inspired your decision to pursue a career in R&D?

I’ve always loved learning and building, and I find it motivating when others say something is impossible. There’s something so energizing about hearing about a problem, coming up with wild ways to solve it, and testing those theories out. R&D is so fun to me because of the combination of behavioral science, scientific method, and art — empathizing with the human user, testing your hypotheses objectively with quantitative and qualitative data, and learning to refine form and function to make something useful and beautiful. I also really enjoy working closely with a cross-functional team to do this, and that aspect of teamwork with fast iteration is what drew me to R&D.

What advice would you give to women aspiring to enter the R&D space?

Something I’ve learned is how to be a better advocate for myself and ask for help. I used to be afraid to speak up and say the wrong thing. I now believe that if you don’t share what’s on your mind, you’ll miss opportunities because people don’t know what you’re thinking. As an example for career growth, to be more concrete: If you’re interested in learning a new skill, trying out a new role or responsibility, or growing your career in a certain direction, share that with your manager and mentors, so they can help identify opportunities for you and ensure you’re considered. They can also give you feedback on next steps to take –- learning, networking, demonstrating an aptitude, etc. — to make that a possibility. Relatedly, finding great mentors has been invaluable — people who can advise you, share their experiences and learnings. These mentors have helped me navigate both professional situations as well as personal-professional like being a working parent.

How would you describe yourself as a leader? Can you share a key leadership lesson or strategy that has been instrumental in your success?

I really believe in servant leadership, although I think that term can be misconstrued. In my opinion, the best thing I can do for my team is give them the context and a clear pathway to run fast and learn quickly. And to foster an environment of both high expectations and psychological safety so that they feel stretched but also safe to fail, and safe to speak their minds. I want my team members to really feel ownership of their problem spaces, and tell me about the best opportunities, approaches, and learnings rather than have me dictate. I’ve found this approach is invigorating for high performers and creates conditions for them to grow quickly. Relatedly, hiring people smarter than yourself who are adaptable with high agency really changes the limits of what you can achieve.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Lately, I’ve enjoyed getting back into a childhood mentality with my kids: playing games, building, making art, cooking, exploring new places, and just experiencing life. In general, I enjoy exploring and learning new things so that most often leads me to reading, cooking, hiking, and traveling. I also like being active in some way every day, whether it’s swimming, running, doing yoga, or walking my dog at the beach.

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Ontra is an alternative legal services provider. We are not a law firm and do not provide any legal services, legal advice, or referral services and, as a result, we do not provide any legal representation to clients, nor do we participate in any legal representation of clients. The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to constitute or be relied upon as legal, tax, accounting, regulatory, or other professional advice, opinion, or recommendation by Ontra or its affiliates. For assistance or guidance regarding the impact or applicability of the topics discussed in this article to your business, please consult your legal or other professional advisers.