‘It’s great to be in a city again, and Manchester is a vibrant place’

Wild Geese: After seven years in the car industry, Ellen Murphy decided to do an MBA

After seven years working in technical and commercial roles in an automotive sector being reimagined in response to climate change, Ellen Murphy decided to reimagine her own career.

The Dalkey native, who is "passionate about design, innovation and problem-solving" had an interest in engineering early on. After completing her Leaving Cert at Loreto Abbey Dalkey in 2009, she studied mechanical and manufacturing engineering in Trinity College, with a thesis focusing on the "efficacy of delivery of hydrogels to the heart via transmyocardial injection".

"After completing my degree, I decided to take a year out to figure out what I wanted to do. I got a job at the Science Museum in Trinity College, working as a mediator, informing visitors about the various exhibitions that were happening. I loved it, but then I got on to a graduate scheme at Jaguar Land Rover [JLR] and moved to Leamington Spa in the West Midlands in the UK, in 2014."

Murphy was part of the first intake of graduates in the technical customer service department through the commercial engineering graduate scheme. A role in service attribute as a programme leader soon followed in 2015.


“I worked to ensure that future JLR vehicles were designed to be serviced and repaired quickly and cost-effectively. I was the voice of the customer in the design of the car.”

This, for example, saw her examine cost and efficiency, while taking into account issues such as the move away from animal products, necessity of items in the iconic car, materials used, sustainability and more.

Seismic change

“As a result I spent a lot of time talking to people. I loved it. It was a really great job, also because the car industry was and is going through a seismic change,” she says.

In 2018, Murphy took on a role as a Jaguar product analyst, working in global product marketing, leasing with European teams. “I looked after customer needs, brand and business needs, optimisation of the market equation. I have experience working on future car lines, development and car lines in production, most recently F-Pace, Jaguar’s large SUV.”

Murphy says the work happening at the new JLR Gaydon Centre headquarters was impressive.

“Just fifteen minutes from Leamington Spa, the site houses a cutting-edge design, research and development centre with extensive test-track facilities.” Occupying the land that was once the RAF V bomber base of RAF Gaydon, it is the technology epicentre of the two companies.

“Although I didn’t spend too much time at the centre, I really enjoyed it, especially as the the high tech was so highly sophisticated and it didn’t look like a car plant would look,” she says.

Owned by Tata, the luxury car brands are experiencing existential changes, due to climate change. Both promise to offer pure electric power by 2030 and a net-zero carbon business by 2039, while examining clean hydrogen fuel-cell power for future demand. “Then there will be recycling options for some of the bespoke cars. These cars have such great legacies, that there will always be a market for vintage petrol cars too, albeit a smaller one.

During the pandemic, Murphy decided to optimise her own life too.

“I really enjoyed working in this exciting sector, but decided I wanted to do an MBA full time to broaden my skills.”


In 2021, she left JLR and Leamington Spa after seven years to move to Manchester and do an MBA at the Alliance Manchester at the University of Manchester. “I learned a lot there, most notably how to work for such a well-known brand in cross-disciplinary teams. It taught me to be a strong communicator, especially delivering technical briefs to non-technical stakeholders.”

Now, she says, she has the opportunity to challenge herself, and improve her abilities as an innovator. “The work is hard. It’s full-time plus assignments, so there’s not much free time. But it’s great to be in a city again and Manchester is a vibrant place.”

Murphy, who completed a postgraduate award in engineering business management at the University of Warwick in 2021, says an MBA still holds value, especially if it is from a respected college.

The international student base is also a bonus. “What I love about the course is that it has attracted people from all the world, a really diverse mix of backgrounds, and we meet up outside of college too.”

As for coming back to Ireland, Murphy says she enjoyed a surprisingly long stint in Dalkey during the first lockdown. “I came home early on in March 2020 and my dad said to me: ‘Just check in a bag, you never know what could happen.’ I ended up in Ireland for five months working from home. I was very lucky to stay with family, all while someone rented out my room back in the UK.”

Looking forward, Murphy is not specific about what direction she wants her career to head, post MBA.

“I’ve worked in the car industry for so long, this will enable me to work elsewhere too if that’s what I want to do” she adds. “Where, I’m not sure yet, but it’s exciting.”