- Ryan Bonnici started his career as a flight attendent.
- A meeting with a Microsoft exec on a flight forever changed his career and his life.
- That meeting led to a job at Microsoft which led to a career in tech.
- He’s now an executive who flies first-class and he’s mastered the art of turning an airplane trip into a way to meet influential people.
Ryan Bonnici spends about 60% of his time traveling as the CMO of startup G2 Crowd, he tells Business Insider. He has a fabulous, high-paying career in tech and it all happened because of a chance encounter with a Microsoft exec on a flight when he was a kid in college working as a flight attendant.
That meeting, plus his years as a flight attendant along with his current lifestyle which has him flying all over the world, has given Bonnici a unique view about business trips.
For him, airplane trips are not something to be endured while traveling to the important business meeting. They’re also not to be dedicated to head-down work on the computer. They are an incredible resource for meeting powerful people that could, in one fell swoop, help you advance your career.
Bonnici knows this first hand. He became a flight attendant for Qantas when he was 19, putting his business degree on the part-time back burner so he could travel the world.
One day, a senior executive from Microsoft came aboard his flight. They talked, hit it off and she encouraged him to apply to a marketing leadership program at Microsoft and gave him tips on how to get through a grueling application process that involved beating out thousands of applicants. Low and behold, he was one of about 9 people to get the job.
He’s been climbing the tech career ladder ever since: ExactTarget, Salesforce, HubSpot, and now he’s an executive — the chief marketing officer — at G2 Crowd, a fast-growing startup that helps business find and rate software suppliers. (G2 Crowd was one of Business Insider’s 51 enterprise startups to bet your career on in 2018).
Since his chance encounter with the Microsoft exec, Bonnicih has learned to always treat every flight as an opportunity for business networking. Over the years, he’s met clients on airplanes that brought in millions of dollars of business, founded partnerships, and even discovered a career coach.
“I’ve learned a few tactics obviously,” he said. Here are his top pro tips: