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Michael Murphy

Board Director and Executive Advisor

Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy

Board Director and Executive Advisor

Michael has been a Board Director, CEO, CFO and Chief Actuary in Global, EMEA and Irish roles.
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He has leadership experience in life & pensions, general insurance, health insurance, reinsurance, asset management, wealth & broking and advisory & technology businesses. He has also held chair, non-executive director and pension trustee roles across different countries and markets.

Michael has successfully designed new strategies, restructured businesses, and delivered significant transformation across a range of financial services companies, cultures, and countries to deliver meaningful strategic, commercial, and cultural improvements as CEO, Executive and Advisor.

He left Bank of Ireland in February 2024 after 7 years as Managing Director of New Ireland, Wealth & Insurance at Bank of Ireland to build a portfolio of independent non-executive and executive advisory clients, internationally and locally.

What is the most important lesson, from your personal or business life, that has guided you the most in being a business leader? 

People and relationships are what really matter. Always treat people with respect and while it is important to challenge, it is also important to support. Having rejoined two organisations in my career, I know the importance of treating people well, creating a positive legacy and building followership by being there for people when they need help or support.

Avoid perfectionism and ensure your shadow as a leader isn’t creating a fear of making mistakes. Things go wrong and what will distinguish you as a leader is how you handle challenges. Fear of making mistakes paralyses organisations, misses learning opportunities and stands in the way of real transformation. Calm, focused and decisive leadership always wins the day. 

Is there someone who has had a major impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?

I have been fortunate to have worked with many great leaders, each of whom have very different skills, styles, and experiences. I advise people to take learnings from all of them to become the style of leader you want to be, so you remain authentic to who you are and want to be. Always seek to learn from leadership styles you didn’t value or appreciate, knowing what you don’t want to be is important too.

What is the one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? 

There isn’t just one characteristic given the breadth of skills needed to lead large, complex business. Positive energy, growth mindset, optimism, belief and authenticity are some that I really value.

What are the biggest business challenges or/and opportunities that you have seen over your career to date? And how did you help to overcome or/and optimise these? 

There have been many challenges and many opportunities. In terms of the challenges - listening, trusting your judgement and experience, surrounding yourself by good people and having a clear strategy and plan are all important. In terms of opportunities, be brave to change how you have always done things to take the opportunities and have the right culture, leadership, capability, and experience in place to deliver.

How has your business evolved and adapted because of the events in recent years? Do you believe it has impacted your future business model?

In many of the businesses I have led, we have successfully undergone major transformation to meet the evolving needs of our customers and business partners and to ensure we have a culture and operating model that allows us to meet the cyclicality, seasonality, and rapid changes in our industry. COVID and strong growth accelerated the need to ensure our customers and colleagues had access to the right digital and technology solutions wherever they were, to best serve customers and business partners. Change will continue and new events will occur. Companies will need to continue to invest, improve and have business models that allow them to change and evolve.

How do you think business leaders can best prepare for the future? 

Have a clear purpose, vision, strategy and plan with the right culture, leadership, capability, and partnerships to make it happen. Be ready and able to change plans when things don’t happen as you expected but always try to stay true to your vision and purpose.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring directors in Ireland? 

It is an honour and privilege to be a director of a company and with it comes a lot of responsibility. Be accountable, always operate with integrity, and enjoy it as you deal with both challenges and opportunities.

What do you particularly value from your IoD membership? 

Access to a large network of senior, experienced individuals, and the opportunity to learn, help others and build relationships outside my own industry.