It’s not uncommon for retail professionals to work in different sectors over the course of their career, but few people have worked in such polar opposite industries as professional wrestling and bridal, as Claire Murphy has. Before becoming CEO of Kyha, an Australian bridal brand formerly known as One Day Bridal, Murphy spent most of her career in male-dominated businesses. Here, she talks about the biggest similarities and differences between the various industries she’s worked in, and sha
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res her best advice for others who want to switch sectors. Inside Retail: How did you land your current role as CEO and MD of Kyha? Claire Murphy: I left my role as the CMO at Tabcorp when I was having my first baby. I was late to motherhood and didn’t want to feel pressured to return to work within a specific time frame. After about eight months I was ready to exercise my (tired!) brain and started consulting. I was approached by the amazing Kyha Scott to work with what was then One Day in resolving brand challenges and developing a growth strategy. From there Kyha asked me to come on board as consulting CEO, which really ignited my passion for the business. In July I accepted the ongoing role as CEO and managing director. IR: It’s a pretty big shift from your previous work in the gambling industry. Tell me a bit about the roles you held before Kyha. CM: It is a massive shift from the gambling industry – I’m not sure you could get a bigger one than to bridal. I have actually been in male-dominated industries for the majority of my career, starting in the automotive industry working for Goodyear. It was a great grounding as it was intensely commercial and I learned to sell a product that most people don’t want to buy. After five years there moving up the marketing ladder, my now husband and I moved to the UK for five years. My career highlight in London was my first foray into sport and entertainment, World Wrestling Entertainment, where I was the international communications and sponsorship director and my main job was to promote WWE and secure sponsorship revenue. That role set me up for my return to Australia and the biggest transformational challenge you could ask for: chief commercial officer at a post-salary cap scandal Melbourne Storm. From there, I had a short stint at Crown before being approached by William Hill in Sydney as their marketing director, then to Tabcorp where I became CMO. IR: What are the biggest similarities between the work you do now, and what you did before? And the biggest differences? CM: There are so many similarities. Developing a deep understanding of the business, then implementing a strategy and plan that combines growth and transformation to deliver commercial outcomes. Leading a clever and passionate team of people. A strong affinity for customer needs and answering those needs through new experiences or new categories. Reviewing the way we do things to uncover efficiencies. What’s different? Working in a growing business brings a scrappiness that is different to big, established business. You certainly need to be prepared (and enjoy) rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck into all projects big and small. The other big difference is the level of true team collaboration to create exceptional outcomes. Most rewardingly, I am working with strong, intelligent women every day and hopefully helping to lift them up in their careers. IR: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get a job in a sector that’s very different to their current one? CM: I would encourage developing a broad skill set that is transferable from one industry to another. Rather than focussing purely on sales or marketing, my personal career focus, for example, has been to become a growth and transformation specialist – skills that are appealing to a broad range of sectors. Additionally, I would recommend choosing roles that help round out your experience to make you more appealing to a broader range of industries. My time at William Hill was not only a great opportunity to make a positive impact, but one that allowed me to develop my digital experience. IR: What is it like to hold a leadership role in a company where the founder is still heavily involved? CM: It has actually been a real highlight for me. I think that’s down to two reasons. First, Kyha and I enjoy deep mutual respect, trust and we are almost always aligned. Second, it was Kyha herself who recognised that her true passion is creative rather than operational and commercial leadership, so it has meant that we really complement each other and it has made the leadership transition an easy one. IR: I’ve heard there’s a growing trend of CMOs becoming CEOs. Do you think that’s true, and if so, why? CM: I have definitely seen a bit of a rise of the CMO – and it is terrific to watch marketers become business leaders. For me, I think the appeal for shareholders and business owners is that CMOs who enjoy a broad commercial remit are accustomed to driving business outcomes. They are often the internal customer advocates and understand an organisation’s customer needs best. And, perhaps most importantly, as digital channels to market are equaling or even surpassing their bricks-and-mortar counterparts, CMOs are very at home in multiple channels to market and particularly in the digital space. IR: Time for our lightning round questions…professional networking at industry conferences and events, love it or hate it? CM: It’s a love/hate relationship. Hate that it can feel forced. Love that you have the opportunity to connect with people that have shared experiences or different thinking. IR: Your biggest strength as a leader? CM: Setting a vision and taking the team with me – but not being afraid to roll up my sleeves when stuff needs to get done. IR: Your secret superpower? CM: Taking the complex and making it simple. IR: The top three stores where you like to shop (besides Kyha of course)? CM: All Saints, Celine (miss you, Phoebe Philo), Alias Mae.