Wild Geese: feeling the heat in Miami, a ‘sexy city with great energy’
As an expert on global lifestyle luxury management, Lisa Murray is in the right place
Lisa Murray: ‘If you’re Irish and work hard, you’ll do well in Miami’
Lisa Murray has come a long way with her 20-plus years of management experience in the travel market, 10 years of it at C-suite level for companies in the luxury lifestyle sector.
“My degree in European studies gave me the impetus to go travelling at an early age,” says Murray, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin.
Her first job, as flight attendant with Japan Airlines, last five years. At the time JAL hired a lot of Irish staff based out of Heathrow. A good sense of humour and ability to handle difficult situations were trademarks of the Irish employees and made them popular.
Murray flew to Sydney and New York every month and to places such as Mumbai, Osaka and Tokyo. “I got to see a lot of the world at a young age,” she says.
Being in the right place at the right time has helped her in her career. So has being open to opportunities.
“After JAL,” she says, “I worked in a management role with Irish Ferries when I was 26, looking after 40-plus staff. It really taught me in-depth about operations and about managing a team of staff and what was needed to get the job done.”
Luxury and aviation
Murray moved into the luxury sector 12 years ago with global concierge brand Quintessentially, first in the Irish office and then Miami, where she advanced to chief executive. She began working in the aviation sector and founded QA Jet, where she is still chief executive .
And, in 2015 she founded the Atlas Club (http://myatlasclub.com), a global lifestyle management company. With strong organisational management skills and a track record in sales in the luxury and travel sectors, Murray has been involved in corporate deals in excess of $65 million.
She has become internationally recognized as an expert in concierge and lifestyle management, and is a regular contributor to international magazines.
Her advice for others looking to follow to Miami is simple. “Be yourself, but be cautious. Sometimes all is not what it seems. Trust your instincts and do your due diligence, every time.”
Miami is a very transient city, Murray says, and making quality friendships can be difficult.
“If you’re Irish and work hard, you’ll do well in Miami. As a small nation, we have a strong work ethic and are a very adaptable workforce. So if your background is in marketing you could find yourself working in sales and be very good at it.”
Melting pot of cultures
Needless to say, the sun and constant blue skies in Miami are a major plus.
“There’s a very good quality of life and a lot of outdoor activity,” Murray says. “It’s a real melting pot of cultures, and Spanish is the unofficial first language of Miami, making it a sexy city that has great energy.”
The city has seen a significant increase in big businesses, due in part to Florida’s preferential taxes, which encourage hedge funds, private banks and family offices.
David Tepper, the hedge fund mogul and founder of Appaloosa Management, reportedly saved more than $500 million in state taxes by relocating from New Jersey there. The Miami of the 1980s, with its drug and crime problems, is a very distant memory compared with the vibrant cultural city it is today.
Becoming a world leader in the contemporary art scene has seen a huge driver of moneyed Miamians. A total of $3 billion was spent in contemporary art in 2015, the majority during the Art Basel Miami Fair in December. A large number of low-key, high-net-worth individuals have homes in Miami – retired sport stars, celebrities, South American, Russians.
“Being Irish abroad is a benefit in itself,” Murray says. “We don’t take no for an answer, we are persistent and resilient, so that’s a business advantage”
She finds great support among the Irish community abroad. “Irish people are eager to help you and they are very willing to make business introductions purely based on you being a fellow Irish person. It’s great to be able to capitalise on that.”
There are definitely business benefits to living in the United States – the wealth is so much greater. The US has 49 per cent of private jet owners globally. “Miami ranks six in the top 40 most important global cities for super wealthy, so of course that’s great for us at the Atlas Club.”
As for Ireland, “I miss the commonality of doing business with Irish people because doing business with other nationalities has its challenges,” Murray says. “I’ve learned a great deal about working with other cultures.
“It’s important when you are negotiating a deal that you know what makes the other party tick.”