“I was walking on campus after (soccer) practice with Graham Chandler (’87), one of my soccer coaches with the Mounties,” says Murphy. “He said, ‘Lara, have you ever thought about a career in construction? I can see you running a big business.’”
Murphy says that campus conversation changed the trajectory of her life.
“Until then, the thought had never crossed my mind, even though I was running a business every summer in my hometown of Saint John,” she says. Murphy started her own business, Handy Student Maintenance, at the age of 16.
Fast-forward 30 years and she is now co-founder and director of strategy at Calgary’s Ryan Murphy Construction.
Murphy says many lessons she learned in the classroom and on the pitch at Mount Allison have carried over to her business life.
“Learning how to lose with grace is one of the best skills I’ve learned, in business and in sport,” says Murphy. “You will lose more than you win, but recognizing this and, as Michelle Obama says, learning how to ‘fail up’ have been essential for me both personally and professionally.”
Murphy has contributed much more than construction to her adopted hometown. She is also an active volunteer for a number of organizations and community groups.
“I think it’s important to give back to your community. Calgary’s given so much to me,” says Murphy. “The construction industry still doesn’t have many women working in it. It’s important for young girls to look at all their options and not limit themselves.”