THIS week’s High Flyer is Claire Murray, head of development and marketing at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.
What was your first job?
After completing my Masters from University of Ulster, I got a job working for one of the world’s biggest multinational corporations – Coca-Cola. I spent almost 15 very happy years working in the corporate world before finally making the leap to working full-time in the arts.
What qualifications do you have?
I read English Literature at Trinity College Dublin and after this I achieved a Masters (with Distinction) in Communication, Advertising and PR at Ulster University.
What do you attribute your success to?
Hard work, a bit of luck and a simple desire to get things done. It is important to have a vision and a shared sense of purpose, to think strategically, have high expectations – of both myself and others – and ultimately to stay positive. It is also very important to remember that people are key to the success of any project.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
I am a typical Libran – diplomatic, sociable and always trying to keep the peace.
Who do you look up to in business?
I greatly admire women in business, especially those who promote a healthy balance between being driven at work and really caring for their teams. I am lucky to have worked for some incredible women – Brona Moffett (National Trust), Aedamar Howlett (The Coca-Cola Company) and Anne McReynolds (The MAC). I feel very privileged to be working at the Lyric and especially during this our 50th Anniversary year on Ridgeway Street. The spirit of the Lyric’s founder and incredible female leader Mary O’Malley is still very much alive across everything we do.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
I really believe that my success at work has much to do with other people. I love working with people, bringing out the best in them and vice versa, getting a real buzz out of creating new things together and making positive change. The workplace can – and should – be an incredibly creative and dynamic environment.
What was the last book you read?
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I have three young children so these days I don’t have much time for anything more than light reading or a short story. My house is coming down with books, but the days of reading four or five books a week are long gone, I’m afraid. I only hope I instil a love of books in my children, as my father did with me.
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
One of the most bizarre experiences of my life is winning £51,500 on a national TV quiz show hosted by Robert Kilroy-Silk almost 17 years ago. I gave half away and spent the rest on my wedding.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
The theatre, of course! It’s changed my life and I’m on a personal mission to make sure that the arts should be inclusive and accessible to absolutely everyone. Regardless of the perception, it should never be considered as an exclusive club limited to a small demographic, but as a powerful tool to change our thinking, open our minds and enrich our lives. In the financially and socially challenging times we live in, it is more important than ever to work together with the government and the business community to ensure that the arts in Northern Ireland thrive and flourish.