The Hub Convocation 2019 – Tim Murphy, MBA

Convocation 2019 – Tim Murphy, MBA

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Congratulations on achieving your MBA! Why did you choose Athabasca University (AU)?

I chose Athabasca University after I spoke to a few people who were in the MBA program and they shared the tremendous flexibility the online program allowed, the fantastic people they met, and how the curriculum helped them grow as a person.

Tim Murphy

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What will you remember most about your Athabasca University experience?

My biggest memory was the effort it took for me to complete the accounting course that I was enrolled in at the time of the evacuation of Fort McMurray during the wildfire in 2016.

At the time of the evacuation, I was finishing off a course. We were evacuated to a camp north of Fort McMurray and stayed there for four days.

At 4:00 a.m. on the fifth day, we were awoken and told to board a bus. We were taken to an air strip and flown to Edmonton. I found a little two bedroom condo and the five of us packed in there.

I recall watching how our organization handled the situation and thinking I was in a live case study! The organization did handle it all very well, with great communication and support.

In any event, that course wrapped up, and I didn’t want to delay my program plan, so the AU folks and another student assisted me in getting my accounting course material to me at that little condo.

As time went on during the evacuation, I started the accounting course and was then tapped on the shoulder to return to Fort McMurray to help in restarting the plant.

Restarting this facility involved working long days, living in work camps, and taking every opportunity I could to get through that textbook. I recall wandering around parking lots to find people’s Wi-Fi hotspots, just so I could do my homework and get through that course.

When it came down to it with Syncrude, any barrier went away and people from all levels of the organization really pulled together to do whatever was required to get things up and running again. It was quite a unique experience, and I felt like it was the culture of the place that made that happen.

I also proved to myself during that time that if I could pass that course, I could do anything!!

Tim Murphy

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Can you tell us more about your role within Syncrude?

I am a Construction Manager for Syncrude. I was at the start of the course and I still am to this day.

However, I am the only construction manager at Syncrude to take an MBA, so who knows where this might lead!

Tim Murphy

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Who would you like to thank for their support in pursuing this degree?

I would like to thank some co-workers, peers, and my employer for their encouragement and support during this adventure.

To Ayisha Corey for first introducing me to the program and the idea I should apply, to my boss Bob Stovall for getting all the right paper work all in place, and to Syncrude for assisting me to complete the program.

I would also like to thank my grandmother who instilled in me from a very early age to be a lifelong learner; those words still ring in my ears.

Thanks to my daughter Shayleen! You are a great homework buddy!

I would especially like to thank my wife, Verna. She made so many sacrifices on my behalf that none of this would have been possible without her support. Thanks for managing the household, rearranging your life and our family’s lives on so many occasions, and for the emotional support and constant encouragement!

Tim Murphy

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Wow!

It’s very cool that your grandmother had such a big impact on you.

Can you tell me more about your grandmother and how she instilled a love of lifelong learning in you?

My grandmother was born in the 1920s, married a dairy farmer and had five children. After she finished high school, she took post-secondary education, and she worked outside the home continuously with the school board until her retirement. She instilled education in all her children, all are well-educated and successful.

In my late teens, I lived with her and my grandfather for a few years and I guess she used that time to stress that education is important, to never stop learning, and succeed; just like her own children did.

Tim Murphy

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Tell me more about your wife and family?

My wife is a miracle and produced miracles. My wife was diagnosed in 1992 with aplastic anemia and went through a bone marrow transplant. We were told at that time that due to the treatment, she would not be able to have children. They would not guarantee that she would even live for five years, let alone pregnancy.

We were married in 1995, and she successfully carried two children.

So you see, she lived far more than five years now and she is a miracle. She gave me two healthy sons that are well on their way to adulthood now and are miracles of their own!

Tim Murphy

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What about your daughter?

Shayleen came to us in an unusual way. When my wife and I moved to Fort McMurray, she worked as a journalist and discovered during one of her news pieces that there was a great need for foster parents in our community.

So for ten years or so, we did just that and fostered over 15 kids along the way. Shayleen was one of those kids.

Shayleen was placed in our care the day she was born. When she was ten days old, she went into liver failure due to complications with her blood. She and my wife were at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton for over two months.

All the immediate health issues were resolved at that time, but they stressed to us that Shayleen might still have some lingering health concerns. Long story short, we were able to adopt her into our family as a Murphy when she was three.

She is doing well and is in Grade 5 now. She was sitting at the table with me for all three years of the program doing her homework right alongside me.

Tim Murphy

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What is the one skill you think helped you to succeed in your program?

Stubborn determination. Once I decide on something, I am focused and driven to succeed. I am not sure where that comes from, but I always have to have something to channel my energy.

Tim Murphy

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Do you live in Fort McMurray still? What’s the best part of living in Fort McMurray?

The best part of Fort McMurray is the sense of community. When you live here, you can really see and feel tangible community support for those in need.

This is my family’s home now. We don’t say we are from Cape Breton anymore.

We say we are from Fort McMurray.

Tim Murphy

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How has completing your education journey with Athabasca University transformed your life?

I am a better person. This course has provided me with many opportunities to reflect on myself as much as it did to expand knowledge of new concepts. I see changes in myself and how I approach situations, how I lead and manage people, and even how I approach life with my family.

Tim Murphy

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Do you have any final shoutouts?

Lori Flemming (AU) and Lisa Drent (fellow MBA student) were of great help in assisting getting course materials to me during the evacuation of Fort McMurray. Lori sent them to Lisa, and Lisa made a special delivery to ensure I would not miss the course!

Tim Murphy

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Published:
  • June 7, 2019