William Murray

https://media.blubrry.com/whenitmattered/content.blubrry.com/whenitmattered/When_it_Mattered_17_RD_4.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Email | RSS Ep. 17 — A legendary CIA operative begins his career struggling with imposter syndrome / William Murray, Founder, Alphom Group and 38-year CIA Operations Officer. When William Murray walked through the doors of the Central Intelligence Agency as a young recruit, he was instantly filled with trepidation. “Everybody that I met seemed to be better educated, better traveled, and have a better understanding of the world than me,” Murray remembers thinking. Murray fought his insecurities and over the next nearly 38 years, grew into a highly successful and impactful senior Operations Officer and a legendary figure in the CIA, serving in some of the most world’s toughest hotspots, including Beirut, Tehran, Pakistan, the Balkans, and Syria. After his overseas tours of duty, Murray returned to Washington D.C. and reached the highest ranks of the Senior Executive Service, managing some of the most sensitive and vital intelligence collection programs in the Agency. Among other awards and accolades, Murray received the CIA’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. Murray’s stint in Syria during the Gulf War and his extensive postings in the Mideast gives him a deep perspective on the current mess in Syria. [Hear audio excerpt below] Despite his long and distinguished service, Murray says he left the Agency never quite fitting in. He’s reconciled himself to having been a quintessential outsider. Transcript Download the PDF Chitra Ragavan:   Hello everyone. I’m Chitra Ragavan and this is When it Mattered. When it Mattered is a podcast exploring how leaders are forged from critical moments and how they deal with and learn from adversity. My guest today is the legendary William Murray. He’s a retired senior operations officer who spent nearly 38 years at the Central Intelligence Agency. During his tenure, Murray was posted to some of the most dangerous CIA stations in the world, often during war and civil unrest including Beirut, Tehran, Pakistan, Syria, and the Balkans. This episode is brought to you by Goodstory, an advisory firm helping technology startups find their narrative. Chitra Ragavan:   Murray also held senior management roles in Washington DC and was seconded in the US Senate to help create the intelligence reform and terrorism prevention act of 2004, which resulted in the largest change in US government structures since the end of World War II. Murray has received numerous awards including the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. He currently is founder of the Alphom group. A business intelligence and risk management consulting firm. Bill, welcome to the podcast. William Murray:   Hi Chitra, how are you this afternoon? Chitra Ragavan:   I’m good. How are you? William Murray:   I’m fine. Thank you. Chitra Ragavan:   You come from a humble working class, Irish Catholic family in Boston. In some ways, you were an unlikely candidate for the CIA. William Murray:   That’s true. At the time I joined virtually everybody who had come in before me and the people were still coming in were all Ivy League, sort of East Coast big families, long established families, et cetera. I was a shot in the dark. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out. Chitra Ragavan:   What was your background? William Murray:   My father was in the Navy during World War II. And then used the GI bill after the war. Got an education as a design draftsman. Worked on a lot of really interesting large engineering projects like the Polaris submarine and the B-58 Hustler and a whole host of missile systems for Raytheon and Honeywell and various other companies around the Boston area. I was always fascinated with what he did, the technology, et cetera. But he had a very large family. There were eight of us. I was the oldest. So trying to feed a family like that and house us et cetera. He wound up working a lot of times, two jobs. William Murray:   It was not particularly a struggle for us to exist. We weren’t poor. We never thought of ourselves as poor. There was a struggle. I was very fortunate because when I started high school, my mother insisted that I compete for entrance to a regional Catholic high school that was just opening in the Southeastern Massachusetts area. I didn’t think I’d ever pass the test, well I did. I got in and I was in the first graduating class. While I was in high school, I did a lot of oratory. I enjoyed that. So I did it. I wound up in my… almost the last few months of my senior year of high school winning the Massachusetts high school speech contest. Which gave me a four year free college education. The result of it. I was fortunate. I got into college and I was always interested in history. So I decided that I was going to study history and law as subjects. Chitra Ragavan:   How did you end up in the government? William Murray:   Well, it’s kind of a complex story, but I was in the Marine Corps. I was in the Marine Corps Reserve. You have to understand, everybody in my generation or most people in my generation, the stories and the movies about the 60s, they sort of leave out the fact that many of us were inspired by Kennedy. The whole change in atmosphere in the United States during the Kennedy administration. We were struck by things like Kennedy’s inaugural address as not what you can do. What your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. People have joined the Peace Corps, they signed up for the military, et cetera. They did all kinds of things. Would probably seem a little strange to today’s generation. But for us, they were important. William Murray:   So I was in the Marine Corps Reserve and then I thought I was going to go to law school. In my senior year I started looking around at alternatives, but I wanted to

William Murray Read More »