Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Wild Geese: Setting a fast pace in Silicon Valley

Apprenticeship and hard work led to a busy career in the UK and US

Fri, May 3, 2013, 00:00


Ciara Kenny

Pam Murphybegan working in software by “happy accident”, but since taking on her first IT assignment as a young graduate consultant in Dublin she has since risen to the post of chief operating officer of one of the largest business software companies in the world.
In her final year of a commerce degree in UCC in 1995, Arthur Anderson was scouting for people to join their apprenticeship programme. Murphy applied, was offered the position and moved to Dublin after graduating, where she lived for seven years.

“I was a very hard worker, and could have ended up in any industry at that stage,” she says. “I worked on consulting assignments with pharmaceutical companies, and could have ended up specialising in that. But I was contracted out to Oracle on an assignment for what was supposed to be two months, which turned out to be two years.” In 2002 she met her future husband in London and moved there to join Oracle full-time as head of consulting operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“It was a big practice with a billion dollars worth of revenue, located in over 40 countries, so I did a lot of travelling,” she says. “Every Monday morning I would find myself at Heathrow Airport flying out to Paris or Munich. It was very fast-paced, which I loved.”

In 2007 the couple relocated to Silicon Valley when Murphy was offered the position of vice-president for finance and operations, a role she worked in until December 2010 when the former president of Oracle, Charles Philips, newly appointed as CEO of Infor, asked Murphy and two other Oracle executives to join him.

Infor is now the third largest software company in the world, with more than 13,000 employees globally. It provides industry-specific software applications and suites for the cloud or on-site for 70,000 customers in 190 countries, ranging from large multinationals like Ferrari, Heineken and Boeing down to small manufacturers.

As Infor’s chief operating officer, Murphy is responsible for implementing the strategic vision set out by the CEO, managing profitability, optimising the use of people and technology to keep down costs, and ensuring operating processes throughout the company can support the level of growth and innovation they want to deliver for clients and stakeholders.

Murphy has played a vital role in the hiring of almost 1,000 new software designers and developers since she joined Infor, as well as 700 additional staff. Her international experience and her Irishness have stood her in good stead in America, she believes.

“I still have a strong Irish accent, which helps me tremendously in the workplace. There is a strong affiliation between the US and the Irish. Everyone wants to tell you about their Irish connections,” she says.

The company’s HQ is in New York, but when Murphy took the job she insisted on staying in California and commuting every few weeks. “I go to New York to spend time with the management team, to attend meetings and quarterly business reviews. ”

Murphy hopes to come back to live in Ireland eventually, and believes her career trajectory abroad will give her an advantage in the workplace on her return. “Having international experience gives you the option to take up roles in multinationals that are happy for you to be resident in Ireland,” she says.

Wild Geese is a weekly interview in the Business supplement with Irish business leaders abroad. This article appears in the newspaper today, and in the Business section of the website here.