After 40 years of working in banking and the NTMA, Brian Murphy has recently started a part-time non-executive and advisory career. He completed the UCD Diploma in Corporate Governance at UCD Smurfit School in 2017.
Impending retirement from the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) was Brian Murphy’s incentive to enrol on the UCD Diploma in Corporate Governance as he looked to prepare for a new career in the non-executive space.
“I knew I was coming to a point where I would be leaving the NTMA, but I still felt I had a lot to offer and a lot of energy,” he says. “I have 40 years of experience from multiple financial services businesses and wanted to use the benefit of that in new challenges. I didn’t want to retire to my slippers or the golf club just yet.”
Murphy was already familiar with the UCD Diploma in Corporate Governance, having read quite a bit about the programme and knowing several of its alumni. “The Smurfit Business School has a great reputation and I felt having the diploma under my belt would enhance my prospects once I was out in the big, bad world.”
He did the programme during his final year in the NTMA where he was chief executive of one of its sub-agencies, the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA). Prior to this 10-year stint in the public service, he had spent most of his career as a banker, primarily at Citi and ABN Amro.
He found the diploma to be “an excellent offering” and very well executed. “The content of the course and the quality of the lectures and workshops were superb,” he says. “There was also great diversity within the student class – we had people from the voluntary, public and private sectors; male and female; old and young. Having that range of perspectives was hugely beneficial – the debates and arguments we had in class were fantastic and were a big part of the learning experience.
“There was a great ambience about the programme and it created a huge esprit du corps. A lot of us within the class still stay in touch and we have formed a bit of a network out of it. Overall, it was a great experience.”
Since completing the diploma and retiring from the NTMA, Murphy has been taking on non-executive and advisory work on a part-time basis. In March, he was appointed non-executive chairman of US insurance and asset management business Cohen & Company, which recently set up a European office in Dublin. He has also been a non-executive director of Redesdale Group – a health tech fund created by Merrion Stockbrokers founder John Conroy – since earlier this year. His advisory work, meanwhile, is primarily in the fintech area.
“I haven’t consciously gone out and marketed myself too extensively as a non-exec director,” he says. “It has tended to come through word of mouth.
“Also, some of my advisory work has come about because I was introduced to a couple of companies and invited to become a director. Instead, I’ve offered to do some advisory work for them. That gives me the opportunity to get to know the people and the company if I’m not familiar with them already.”
His previous board experience was primarily as an executive director and chairman of various ABN Amro entities in Dublin and Scandinavia. “It’s a bit different now in that they are independent, non-executive directorships, which does give you a different perspective on things,” Murphy says. “One of the challenges is not to get too close to the business and to try to get involved in operational matters. That’s the temptation if you have been an executive director.”
Being such a recent graduate of the UCD Diploma in Corporate Governance has been advantageous as he starts his new career. “A lot of it is very fresh and I still have all the folders from the lectures! And I’d refer to the programme from time to time when I’m preparing for board meetings. Also, starting off as chairman of the Cohen & Company entity can be challenging because I’m dealing with some very experienced people from Wall Street, for example, who are also on the board. Having all that ammunition from the diploma has certainly been very useful.”