Rónán Murphy, Senior Partner, PwC

Rónán Murphy, Senior Partner at PwC, gives graduates his advice for future success.

Getting started

I always had an interest in business and at UCD I decided that an accountancy qualification would be the best route to a successful business career. So in 1980 I joined PricewaterhouseCoopers where I knew I would receive great training and development working on some of the biggest companies in the marketplace – and I have never looked back!

A turning point

A key highlight in my career was my secondment to our Boston office as a Senior Manager. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and I got to see international business from a totally different perspective; the breadth of experience I gained has stood to me in my career to this day. Following my return, I was made a Partner in the Irish firm.

Career highlight

Being elected Senior Partner of PwC Ireland in July 2007. I feel privileged to lead and manage Ireland’s largest professional services firm.

Key skill

I would hope that my colleagues feel that I involve them and listen to their views in relation to major decisions and that I execute those decisions based on consensus. I feel that this has enabled me to lead the firm through what has been the severest recession in living memory. While I see it as very important that there is ownership of the final decision, I think it is critical that there is support for such decisions. This requires real teamwork, concentrating on building strong relationships and taking decisive action where required.

The focus is on people, supporting them as well as giving direction where needed. Often there won't be a single solution, but it is the way you get there and how you bring people along that is important.


There are plenty! It's all about communication, whether in the media, with clients or our own people. The real challenge is being an ambassador for the firm at all times.

Advice for graduates

If you have a placement programme in your degree course or are able to secure summer work, use these opportunities to identify where you would like your career to go. There's nothing better than real-life work experience to help you decide if a certain career is right for you.

Get to know as many people as possible through college and work. They will be your friends and will provide both a personal and business network for life; the bonds you have at college and your early career will stay with you. I can testify to that!

Skills for future leaders

A balanced set of skills, combining commercial awareness with excellent communication and relationship-building skills, are crucial. The ability to collaborate and work in a team as well as possessing a strong sense of drive and enthusiasm are also vital.

How to survive an economic downturn

Really know your strengths and how to communicate them. Have a can-do attitude and be confident, as well as positive and enthusiastic. In the current environment, where doing more with less is paramount, employers will look to see what value you can add to their organisation.

Ronan Murphy was interviewed for Ireland's 100 leading graduate employers 2010.