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Learn how this Harvard MBA grad and mom of four balances family while overseeing two real estate operations in Tampa and Orlando. For Nextdoor's Candice Bradley, it starts with a plan.
Learn how this Harvard MBA grad and mom of four balances family while overseeing two real estate operations in Tampa and Orlando. For Nextdoor's Candice Bradley, it starts with a plan. (Handout)

Candice Bradley is a planner. "I can't stop myself," she laughs. "I'm super focused, methodical and structured."

It suits her well as she now floats between the Tampa and Orlando markets for Opendoor – "we're a startup – and so Orlando is roughly a year old and Tampa just under a year, and so there are very interesting dynamics around our introduction to the marketplace … getting our name and our platform out there and understanding where we need to work to fit with the local markets," she told GrowthSpotter.

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Bradley has been a planner since her Chicago childhood, and business, early on, seemed her calling. In high school, she connected with a pre-college internship program called Inroads, which early on helped hone her career plans.

"I love math, I loved puzzles, so for a brief time, I thought my path would be accounting … but I love the analytics around how things work and don't work, I found I enjoyed the analytics over the task – which ruled that out."

She left the University of Missouri with a degree in finance, plunging headlong into an investment banking career in New York. It was Candice the Planner at work.

"Again, I was very methodical. If I was going to have a finance career, there was a foundation that if I got, would be a badge of honor. Investment banking was literally the hardest thing I could do, so that's what I did."

It wasn't all hard work, though. She also saw a lot of Broadway shows.

"My roommate and I, almost every weekend, would go to Times Square and get tickets to something," she says. "We saw shows, we went to the opera, we experienced a lot of culture together."

The next move took her home to Chicago, and a job with a private equity fund. She also re-met, Sidney, the former classmate she would marry.

"When I say that back then I was very structured – I was the salutatorian in my high school – he was the complete opposite! He was very outgoing, spontaneous, lived life by the seat of his pants."

Up to now, Bradley had been on a very ambitious track – working 80 to 100 hours a week.

"It was grueling," she admits. "I wanted a break, and I wanted it to redirect me. I was about to get married and thinking about where I'd want to be in another five years – and it wasn't working 100 hours a week."

Candice the Planner decided it was time for the grad school plunge.

"I applied to three schools: Kellogg – I was already in Chicago, so we wouldn't have to move, Stanford, which would be amazing because I'd never been to California at that point, and Harvard – because who doesn't apply to Harvard when you're going to business school!?"

She waited.

"I was at work – and there's this infamous day that comes, and I'm just sitting there, refreshing my Gmail. And it finally pops up. And of course, it can't be straightforward – there's a link – and also of course, every other applicant is clicking that link at the same time and it's so slow…!"

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At last, the letter appeared. She skimmed (because, of course, they don't tell you at the top). And then the news: she'd gotten into Harvard.

There was much rejoicing – and a move to Boston.

Tampa came soon after – her first post-MBA gig was Assistant to the Chairman at Raymond James Financial. The Chicago natives – and now their four children (Sydney, 7; Jackson, 5; Jameson, 2; and Sevigne, 1) – enjoy a life that includes beach trips in January.

"It is very chaotic, I will not lie," she chuckles, "but it is so much fun." The births, of course, were planned to a T. Sydney, in fact, was timed to arrive just after business school graduation. Jackson between her two jobs at Raymond James. Family comes first and she encourages everyone on her team to prioritize the things that are important to them.

"Work is work, and I think we're doing something amazing in both cities, but to be your whole self, you have to be happy outside of work, too…. I go home every night for dinner. We have our bath time and our reading time. And then I can work at night."

Is four enough?

"It depends on which one of us – my husband or me – you ask," she says.

Work puns notwithstanding, she admits there's an open door.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at Newsroom@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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