Clodagh Murphy sets out her vision for ExIST

Clodagh Murphy became ExIST chairman in February 2019.  Clodagh has a technology background, as managing director of Eclipse Internet for eight years and more recently working as chief operating officer at IT and Cloud service provider Timico Technology Services in the Midlands. 

Now just one month into her role as ExIST chairman, following a three-month handover period, Clodagh is taking significant steps to build on the group’s work to promote Exeter as a centre of science and technology.  Clodagh’s focus is to continue to build on ExIST’s success, ensuring that the group facilitates connections between businesses operating in STEMM.  She said: “Coming from a business background and knowing how hard it is to run and grow a business, I am particularly keen to engage with this community and do everything we can to help them with any challenges they may face.“ 

One of Clodagh’s first actions was to facilitate a strategy workshop with the organisations that sponsor ExIST as part of a process in re-establishing purpose and priorities for the group. The day saw representatives from sponsors Exeter College, NHS Digital, Thompson Jenner LLP, Exeter City Council and Michelmores, alongside steering group members to undertake a series of exercises to help define future activities.  Clodagh said: “we were quickly able to see strengths commonly recognised by the group and furthermore to identify opportunities to support SMEs in science and technology more, helping to create a positive and supportive environment in Exeter for those businesses.

The group also recognised that since ExIST’s launch in 2011, the science and tech community has grown considerably with more groups, events and activities in place – including IMechE, Exeter Science Park, Digital Exeter, Tech Exeter and PRISM (see pages XX for interviews with Digital and Tech Exeter and our next issue for an interview with Claire Davies, founder of PRISM).  Clodagh said: “we would like to reach out with other groups supporting STEMM and work together, taking a joined up approach and developing a comprehensive yearly calendar of events.”

Insight caught up with Clodagh to find out more about her vision for ExIST and her own route to a STEMM career.

How do you want to work with SMEs in Exeter and the region?

I want to speak with SMEs in the region to understand their challenges so that we can ensure ExIST is pushing their agenda.  Having run a technology business, I know that time is your most precious commodity so you tend to be very careful where you spend it.  We need to ensure that ExIST is attractive to SME leaders so that choose to spend a couple of hours to help us add the value back to them and their businesses.  

How will your work connect Exeter nationally / globally?

The answer has got to lie with a mix of technology and engagement.  We need to keep the wider community engaged, create great events discussing important topics and then use technology to engage the wider audience and promote all that is going on in the area.  

Why Exeter?                                                     

I was working for a business that made an investment here and came down to help run that business.  Little did I realise that this would be where I would settle.  I don’t know what it is, but there is something about Exeter, once it gets you - it gets you!!

Tell us about your background… how did you get into your current role?

I was born in Dublin, but started my corporate career in San Francisco.  After a few years there I decided to pursue my degree, so returned to Dublin and studied part time while working.  Four years later I took a role in Hull with KCOM Group.  My skill set is around business transformation and growth.  I spent 3 years in Hull helping to transform the IT Dept and then moved to Exeter with a wide remit of bringing together three different Internet Service Providers and operationally making them efficient whilst delivering a great customer experience.  In 2009, I took on the Managing Director role at Eclipse.  I have to say this was a brilliant time in my career.  Mark Lang (founder of Eclipse) had created a fantastic business which we took from strength to strength.  We had a brilliant team and all had a lot of fun working really hard, growing the business.  Then in 2015, when KCOM Group decided to make some significant changes and collapse the Eclipse brand I decided to step out. In early 2017 I took a role in the midlands as COO for Timico Technology Services.  Around early 2018, I saw the advert for this role and started to talk to the team, the rest as they say is history.  

How would you encourage more young people to consider STEMM careers?

I think it’s really important to provide positive inspiring role models and mentors.  As a young person I found myself drawn to those areas where people were prepared to spend some time helping me or who had brilliant stories that they would share.  I believe more and more of us, in leadership roles, should take a little bit of time to help younger people understand our journeys so that they can become more enlightened and hopefully a little bit interested.  But, the journey needs to be fostered and supported for the duration, not just at the beginning, so there is lots of work to do to help keep young people engaged in STEMM.

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