Founder, Braden Exploration
Bruce Braden (MBA 73) cannot explain how he got himself into a position to make a $2 million commitment to support GGU’s School of Taxation, soon to be renamed the Bruce F. Braden School of Taxation.
“If I knew that, I’d probably write a book about it,” Braden said over the phone from an idyllic fishing and golf trip to Sun Valley. “The only thing I could say is that I was lucky. I was going to go work for the phone company after I came out of the Army. But the phone company was on strike, so I ended up going to Golden Gate.”
Braden had gone into the Army after he graduated from Stanford in the ’60s. Ma Bell’s strike put him to work on a GGU MBA with a concentration in taxation. He then started his career with Touche Ross, where one of his supervisors was a man by the name of Ted Mitchell. (Hold that thought for a moment.)
Braden ascended to partnerships at two other firms before he discovered oil and became a founder and major contributor to four successful companies in the industry (including his current Braden Exploration, in Fort Worth, Texas) — and one wildly successful company.
“It was not planned,” Braden said. “I made a decent amount in the oil and gas business, but I got into it because I really enjoyed it. It’s a combination of science and gambling.”
Braden managed all of his businesses, he said, for the long haul — making decisions as if he would own them for 20 years. That one wild success — Stroud Energy, which he started in 1998 — was no different, except for its results.
“All of my businesses have been successful,” Braden said, without a touch of boastfulness. “But that one, it was far beyond any of the others — a 50-fold return.”
By the time he sold Stroud Energy in 2006, Braden had lost touch with GGU. He had taught for three years before he got into oil and gas, and then 25 years passed before his former supervisor wondered if he wouldn’t like to reconnect with the university.
That would be one Ted Mitchell, by now a member of GGU’s board of trustees, and Braden soon began writing a generous check.
“When I thought about it,” Braden said, “where would I be without Golden Gate? Maybe still working at the phone company.”