Debra Murphy, Prudential
This month’s Member Spotlight features Debra Murphy, Director of Foodservice Division at Prudential. Debra answered several questions for us.
You’ve been involved with SHFM since 1999 – what is your favorite aspect of being a member?
The Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management offers a wealth of information including the Body of Knowledge, benchmarking studies, RFP templates and general industry information. What I most enjoy is the opportunity to meet and form relationships with the other SHFM members over the years at conferences and meetings. These relationships have been invaluable. I've learned so much from my industry peers, and I know they would support any member who needs guidance.
Which SHFM event has been your favorite to attend?
The 2006 national conference was my all-time favorite event. The speakers were inspiring and generated an energy and sense of excitement that set the tone for the entire conference. The client liaison round table session offered a wealth of knowledge, and I took away at least three new ideas that I implemented at work. The Flawless ExecutionSM
session, in particular, impressed me so much that I still adhere to the advice shared in that presentation. The facilitators--current and former fighter pilots, Navy SEALS and other special operators--demonstrated the power of a continuous improvement framework that in five steps taught attendees how to apply the Flawless ExecutionSM
model to their daily jobs.
What path did you follow to get where you are today?
My dad had a great work ethic. He worked two jobs to support our family; one as a business owner of an incinerator service company and the other as a musician. He taught me to be committed to what you do, take pride in your work, always finish the job you started and don’t be afraid to learn new things. He was a self-taught guitar player and in his later years, after playing countless local venues on weekends, he was invited to join an orchestra with professional musicians from several of the famous “Big Band Orchestras” from the early 1940s. He was so proud of that accomplishment. People who knew my father always told me how much I reminded them of him. If he were alive today, I know he would be proud of what I’ve accomplished and how I've met my personal and professional goals.
How do you keep your customers happy?
The way to keep customers happy is through building relationships. But before you can do that, you need to earn their respect. Give your customers the opportunity to express their wants and dislikes, make it easy for them to reach out to you, listen attentively to what they have to say, be polite and help find mutually beneficial solutions. When you do this, they will thank you for trying to accommodate them even if you can't always meet their needs.
What advice would you share with a young professional considering the industry?
My advice to any young professional would be the same regardless of their chosen profession:
- Find what interests you
- Don’t sit back and wait for success to come to you; be persistent and pursue what you enjoy
- Surround yourself with successful people in the same profession
- Find a mentor who will help you be your best