Through her writing, lectures, consulting and nonprofit work, Dr. Susan Murphy, PhD, MBA is a consummate educator. She has over 25 years of national and international experience with over 300 organizations including many Fortune 500 companies. Currently consulting and coaching for organizations and on the adjunct faculty of Vanderbilt University, Dr. Murphy’s extensive background combines the three worlds of corporate leadership, academia, and management consulting. She has written 9 books on leadership, gender intelligence and generations. Due to her significant contributions to both Women Leaders Forum (WLF) members and the Young Women Leaders mentoring program, Dr. Susan Murphy will be receiving this year’s “Helene Galen Excellence in Education Award.”
Kate Buckley: Susan, where are you from originally, and what brought you to the Palm Springs area?
Dr. Susan Murphy: Please let me say initially how grateful and excited I am by this tremendous Women Leaders Forum (WLF) honor and recognition.
I was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. My life journey took me to Nashville, Boston and Santa Monica. My husband and I then moved from Newport Beach to Rancho Mirage in order to have a second home for our retirement years. We spent years looking at various locations – Arizona, Nevada, even Idaho – and 13 years ago chose our desert. We’ve never looked back. And…we haven’t retired!
KB: Congratulations on both your career and philanthropic achievements and on receiving the prestigious Helene Galen Excellence in Education Award! Can you tell me about any mentors or role models who were instrumental on your journey?
SM: My life has been filled with mentors and role models, and I’ll mention three. My Parents were married for 70 years and taught me about unconditional love, living your faith, loyalty, developing a sense of humor and achieving goals. My dad is a successful entrepreneur and taught me about business. In fact, I even used to ride with him on business calls! Dr. Pat Heim and I met 35 years ago and I’ve learned from her ever since. She introduced me to research about gender differences, inspired my public speaking interest and taught me how to be a consultant. Together we wrote In the Company of Women and are now writing a book about couples.
KB: What do you personally see as your legacy for future women leaders?
SM: Future women leaders can come from every age group. I find great pleasure in helping women of all ages gain self-confidence and leadership skills in order to fulfill their dreams. WLF’s motto is “If you’re a woman, you’re a leader.” My hope is that through my books on leadership as well as through my coaching and mentoring, my legacy is that I leave a positive impact on those whom I’ve touched. When I discover that someone whom I’ve coached – whether it’s when one of my high school student mentees win a scholarship (to Berkeley, Stanford, UC Riverside, COD) or a corporate executive whom I’ve coached does great work – it is exhilarating. Along the way, I’ve been fortunate to collect wonderful mentees who make my life meaningful.
KB: What do you believe is your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?
SM: As far as strengths go, my professional brand is that I’m known for “Wit and Wisdom.” My parents taught me about the power of humor and it has played a huge, positive role in both my personal and professional life. I use my sense of humor every day as well as strive to keep my “curious mind” by looking for wisdom I can share with others. Among my weaknesses is impatience. In fact, as I’ve tried to improve my patience, I’ve found that God keeps giving me more opportunities to practice it!
KB: What does a typical day look like or you?
SM: I have no typical day because of the diversity of my work. Because of writing, coaching, and consulting plus focusing on my family and friends, every day is different. My consulting includes a lot of travel outside of the desert – sometimes internationally. Two sayings that keep me focused daily are: “What I do today is important because I’m exchanging a day of my life for it” and “What is the best use of my time right now?”
KB: You do quite a bit of work for some very important causes and organizations. What is closest to your heart and why?
SM: I believe in the mission of WLF, started by Mary Roche over a decade ago: “Women Leaders Forum of the Coachella Valley develops, empowers and serves leaders of all ages and backgrounds.” Strengthening the confidence and skills of leaders is our hope for the future. Additionally, I serve on the Board of Directors for PSWIFT [Susan and fellow PSWIFT board members pictured at left], Palm Springs Women In Film and TV, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting members, both men and women, in the Entertainment, New Media and Creative Arts in our community. PSWIFT strives to bring education, mentorship and jobs for our community.
KB: When you’re not hard at work, what activities do you enjoy in and around Greater Palm Springs?
SM: One of my favorite activities is bike riding with my husband, Jim. Not only is it a healthy activity, we meet many members of the community and their dogs. Our beautiful weather makes bike riding possible all year – if you are willing to awaken early in the summer. Also, I love meeting friends for lunch, dinner and entertainment. We saw Barry Manilow at the McCallum last week! What a great place to live!
KB: Are there any upcoming Palm Springs events you’re particularly excited about or would like for our readers to know about?
SM: I recommend the “Women Who Rule” Luncheon on January 29. It will be fantastic and raise scholarship money for our talented high school seniors. Also, the PSWIFT Annual Red Carpet Gala will be February 28 – also to support scholarships.
KB: Dr. Susan Murphy, what is it you love most about the community of Palm Springs?
SM: It has been extraordinary to watch our Valley mature and actually transform during my time living here. It is no longer seasonal, but now a year-round destination. We’ve got terrific restaurants, Fashion Week, International Tennis & Golf tournaments, and arts and music entertainment. I love that I have developed lifetime friendships here and seem to run into someone special whom I know every day due to the relatively small size of the Palm Springs community. What a super place to call home!