Joyce Murphy, executive vice chancellor of UMass Medical School, shares career lessons with Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators

September 11, 2015

Never compromise your values and push yourself to try new environments were two of several career lessons Joyce A. Murphy, MPA, executive vice chancellor of UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, shared with Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators at the Statehouse Sept. 10.

“Sometimes it works out better if you don't get what you wish for,” Murphy told the gathering. After college, Murphy sought to become a probation officer, but was not successful. Instead, she accepted a full-time role at a residential treatment facility for emotionally troubled adolescent girls. It was her most challenging job and set her on a course that led to positions within the Massachusetts Department of Corrections.

Sen. Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester, introduced Murphy, whom she described as an extraordinary woman with an entrepreneurial spirit. “Our guest today is someone who is a great role model for you,” Chandler said.

Murphy assumed the senior-most executive role at Commonwealth Medicine in 2011, five years after joining UMass Medical School and holding the position of Commonwealth Medicine’s vice chancellor and chief operating officer. Previously, she held the positions of president and chief executive officer of Carney Hospital in Dorchester; founding president of St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children; vice president of St. Margaret’s Hospital for Women; and first deputy commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Murphy was also the first woman superintendent of MCI Framingham, the only women’s prison in Massachusetts.

Some of Murphy’s other lessons learned include:

  • Follow your passion
  • Don’t let your pride get in the way. Being second choice is okay
  • Stand your ground, but don’t lower yourself to others’ tactics.
  • Don’t take your ball and go home. Don’t get mad, stay calm.
  • Be true to yourself. Never compromise your values and who you are. 
  • It is a huge world out there. Be open to opportunities.
  • You need to take some risks
  • In order to be successful, you must be able to manage up and across as well as down. 

Murphy serves on numerous boards and commissions, including the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission Advisory Council and Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg’s Advisory Committee on Wage Equality. She is vice chair of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Board of Directors. Murphy also sits on the boards of Curry College and UHealthSolutions; as well as on the Leadership Council of the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare. 

Murphy's discussion was popular on Twitter, which is showcased in this Storify.