Allison Murphy: Lessons in Leadership

Allison MurphyOn episode 18 of our podcast, we caught up with Allison Murphy, Vice President of Ad Innovation at The New York Times. She gave us the skinny on attending business school, her passion for media, and her transition from management consulting to working for one of the world’s most recognized media brands in an ever-changing industry. We’ve rounded up some key takeaways perfect for young professionals.

Management consulting makes for a great first job.

Right out of school, Allison started a position where she was essentially paid to solve problems for corporate clients. “Maybe it’s figuring out a three-year growth plan…or how a team can be more efficient, or analyzing a trend in the industry,” she says. Being exposed to different companies and working with so many decision makers meant she quickly learned essential skills. Another bonus? She soon discovered that management consultant companies have a tendency to invest in their young talent with training and mentorship, setting them up for future success.

Listen to Allison’s interview at Coffee Break w/ NYWICI

Think carefully about business school.

Considering another degree? Allison, who attended Harvard Business School (HBS), advises asking yourself what you want to get out of the experience before jumping into more classes. An English major in college, she eventually wanted to switch industries and needed some additional education (on subjects like finance) to make that happen. For her, business school was definitely worthwhile; “Having a network, especially women from business school, who aren’t at my company but are at similar points in their career has been so wonderful for the support and to think through questions…and situations we are dealing with,” she says.

Find a mentor.

Allison, who had four prior roles at The New York Times, found one early on and it’s made a huge difference to her career. That’s why she advises listeners should pick bosses, not jobs. “Find people who are going to invest in you,” she says. You should also be open to new learning opportunities and not be scared to deviate from your plan. “Keep in mind what matters to you most. For me, it’s always, ‘Am I going to learn something in this job and who is the team I want to work with?’”

When you feel overwhelmed, charge forward.

Most people feel overwhelmed when starting a new role, but try to take action when you can. (If you need a little pep talk, remind yourself of previous accomplishments on your “mental victory list” beforehand.) “Don’t ask permission so much. Just get in there,” Allison says. “I think people tend to be more forgiving of people who dive in and try to find a way to have impact sooner than people who are hesitant.”

Keep things in perspective.

You might be struggling with something right now, but it’s important to remember that your career will be long. “Even though you feel you are in this existential crisis right now, you’re going to have like 15 of these moments,” Allison says. “It’s not an existential crisis, it’s just a moment in your career. Breathe through it and keep going.”

Thanks to Allison Murphy for being part of the podcast! To listen to all the episodes of Coffee Break w/ NYWICI, visit

Andrea Goldstein


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