We’re excited to welcome the newest member of our Board of Directors, Sonos Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Brittany Bagley, who brings to Aurora a keen understanding of how to ship industry-defining products and a strong sense of fiscal stewardship.
Given her experience as a CFO and investor, Brittany knows how to scale businesses and help companies deliver on bold missions – valuable expertise as we commercialize our technology and deploy the Aurora Driver. She also has extensive Board experience with innovative companies including Sonos, Savant, Transphorm, and WebMD.
We’re looking forward to the thoughtful, energizing, and diverse perspective Brittany will bring to Aurora. Here’s more about what interests her about self-driving technology, her advice for businesses looking to grow, and why she believes Aurora is best positioned to revolutionize trucking and passenger mobility.
Can you tell us a bit about your career journey?
I spent the majority of my career as a private equity investor at the global investment company KKR, where I was immersed in all things tech – everything from semiconductors to consumer electronics and software. I loved that we were always learning about emerging industries and anticipating market trends. I invested in and sat on the Board of Sonos, and eventually joined the Sonos team as the company’s CFO. This was a chance to take my background as an investor and use those skills to become an operator at a company I loved.
You work with some incredible technology companies. What was exciting to you about Aurora and self-driving?
The people. Chris Urmson and his team have a strong sense of the immense impact this important work will have on transportation safety, accessibility, equity, and efficiency. I am excited to work with Aurora’s Board members, including Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Reid Hoffman of Greylock, Mike Volpi of Index Ventures, and Sequoia Capital’s Carl Eschenbach – and of course, Aurora’s founders: Chris, Sterling Anderson, and Drew Bagnell.
Plus, it’s a revolutionary space I am personally excited about. I’m always looking to make better use of my time and if I wasn’t driving, I could spend more time reading or being with my kids. And I think about how great this would be for my parents – anything to extend their ability to travel safely as they age.
Mission, vision, people, and amazing challenges to solve? Let’s go!
How does being a Board member differ from being a day-to-day operator? What perspective will you bring to Aurora’s Board?
As a Board member, my job is to bring experiences from different companies and industries to Aurora. We work best when we can help the management team, who is so deep in the details, think about the big picture. I will never know the business as well as the Aurora team, but I have a fresh set of eyes and a unique perspective that can help guide Aurora’s growth.
There aren’t as many women on boards as there should be. What can we do to change that?
I could go on for a long time on this topic! There is a lot of research about how more diverse boards lead to higher-performing companies, so that’s a no brainer. In terms of getting more women on boards, I would encourage companies in every industry to be more flexible about the exact profile and experience they are looking for. We attract more diverse candidates by giving diverse team members a chance to do new things and opening our view of who can do a great job.
Speaking as a CFO, what mistakes do you see companies make when it comes to managing their business?
Long-term thinking is critical. While quarterly metrics reflect how you are doing along the way, ultimately we’re all trying to build strong, sustainable long-term businesses -- we need to keep that in mind as we make decisions and think about trade-offs. As someone who has to publicly report financial information quarterly, it’s just a snapshot of a small period in time. What everyone really wants to know is what you’re going to do over the next one, three, and five years.
You also want to make sure organizations take a balanced approach to thinking about metrics. I am often asked, “What is more important: metric A or metric B?” The answer is almost always “both.” It’s a balance and there is rarely one “perfect” number to measure success. Instead, measuring progress is about making sure you look at your business holistically and balance the different trade-offs. Those trade-offs change over time too, so you have to stay flexible.
While widespread self-driving technology hasn’t arrived yet, the transportation market and the resulting opportunity are massive. How do you think about the opportunity ahead of us?
The market for autonomous trucking is massive. The logistics and freight industries are already searching for self-driving technology that can easily be adapted and integrated to meet their needs, and Aurora is poised to make a big impact as the Aurora Driver is deployed at scale. This nearly limitless potential is what makes me excited to join Aurora’s Board.
What career advice do you have for others?
Be willing to think outside the box and take risks. Being a CFO was never on my radar but, when the right opportunity came along, it turned into an incredible experience for me. And, never hesitate to go after what you want – don’t limit yourself.
What do you do for fun? What are some things people don’t know about you?
My family and I love being in Sonoma with my Dad, where we spend time together hiking, swimming, digging in the dirt, keeping bees, and raising chickens!