Pennsylvania Conference for Women board member Liz Murphy is vice president of external affairs at PECO. We caught up with her to ask a few questions about her career path and who inspired her along the way.
Q: How did your career begin, and how did that first job prepare you for where you are today?
A: My career started many years ago after graduating from college in the early 80s. I had always been interested in public policy issues, and so I was fortunate to work in the state legislature. It really gave me the opportunity to work hands-on with public policy development because I worked in the New York State Assembly on transportation-related issues, in an industry that was not populated by a lot of women. That gave me the opportunity to move to a transportation company and hone in on my expertise in transportation. From there I moved into the maritime industry, keeping within public policy, and most recently, I’ve transitioned into the energy industry. PECO is an electric and gas utility that’s headquartered in Philadelphia that services over 3 million customers in southeastern Pennsylvania. It’s also a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation that is headquartered in Chicago and provides generation, competitive electricity and retail electricity throughout the United States.
Q: Transportation and energy are both very male-dominated industries. What’s the driving force that’s allowed you to be so successful in these industries? What explains your staying power?
A: Part of the advice I give to young people just starting out is to truly be yourself. I didn’t have an engineering or technical background in those two industries, but I clearly understand how public policy is developed. I’ve got a pretty decent ability to translate the technical side of the industry into the external branding or public policy position for the company.
Q: Who is a leader for whom you have great respect, and why?
A: I had the really unbelievable fortune of working in my first job in the New York State Assembly for a woman who in her early 30s, and she managed a team of about 30 people. She balanced not only her career, but also a young family. To see Ruth Walters, my first boss and still a mentor and friend, able to perform her work, lead a team, be respected within the organization and have a life outside of work really set the example for me throughout my career. I feel fortunate to have seen that so early, and it has really guided me through many of the decisions I’ve made throughout my career and my life.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give a new employee to help them succeed?
A: Be yourself. Excel in your area and then look for opportunities to help you develop in other areas. People will see that your talent can be applied in other areas within an organization, so don’t rush to be different, start with your strengths. You’ll be recognized and those opportunities will come your way.
Q: What is one thing you make time for in your daily life that helps keep you refreshed and positive?
A: I like to get a full night’s sleep. I do try to walk every day, sometimes for only 20 minutes and sometimes for two hours, but I do like some kind of physical exercise that really lets me kind of get away from family and work demands and just lets me be by myself or maybe a friend.