Catching Up with Professor Charles Murphy

Professor Charles Murphy (Photo Courtesy of Google Images)

Written by Aditya Garg

The Gould Standard caught up with Professor Charles Murphy to learn more about his life and career, and to garner any advice he might have for both current and future students.

At 4:45 on a Thursday afternoon, I walked to KMC 2-60 just as class was ending. There was a bustle of activity – students moving, leaving, and writing down the last notes from the board.

At the center of all this activity, Professor Murphy stood surrounded by a pool of students waiting to ask questions. “Could you please explain the difference between primary and secondary offerings?” asked one excited student.

Finally, by 5:00, the professor began to make his way out of the room. As we make our way back to his office, Professor Murphy speaks of the day’s lecture, student interest, and his next class. Inside a large office in the Finance Department, we begin.

What motivated your switch from being an electrical engineer at Sikorsky to becoming an investment banker?

“I liked the subject,” Murphy said. “I was a good engineer but knew that I could be a great finance person. I had many friends who worked in the field and it fascinated me. Thus, I started taking classes at NYU’s Graduate Business School (GBA) and eventually made the move to First Boston as an equity research analyst. Over time, I worked my way up to the executive board of Credit Suisse First Boston.”

However, as Professor Murphy pointed out, things could have been very different.

“All my relatives were engineers,” he said. “They thought I was crazy! I think that me being in this field just goes to show how big a role luck plays in life.”

How has the industry changed in your lifetime?

“It is much, much bigger. Just to give you an example, when I first joined First Boston, there were about 80 people in the investment banking division. Now, there are probably 16,000. The size of the firm has grown much larger in the last 40 years.”

Did you ever plan to become a professor? Why do you do it?

“I never planned on becoming a professor. After consulting, I was going to just play golf and enjoy life. But a friend of mine, a former dean of the school, convinced me to come teach this course,” said Murphy.

“I do it because it’s fun and I have a great time. You all teach me so much. I will teach as long as I can and as long as I am relevant.”

What advice would you give students taking your course and those hoping to take it in the future?

“The best advice I can give is that whatever you do, do well. A lot in life is luck but you need to do well for luck to kick in.”

To date, what has been your favorite deal?

“My 4 best deals are my 4 children.”

Is there anything else you would like to say?

“We are all in a very unique institution with fantastic faculty, great administration, very smart students and an unparalleled location. Stern is indeed a very special place. Value your time here and learn all that you can. Work hard, explore, experiment and have fun. You are in college!”

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