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Harmony Murphy

Harmony Murphy: Transforming the Tech Industry Through Inclusive Leadership

Unleashing Tech Innovation!

The tech industry has become an indispensable part of our daily lives, driving innovation and shaping the way we interact, work, and entertain ourselves. From developing cutting-edge software solutions to pioneering advancements in artificial intelligence, this sector continues to push the boundaries. It serves as the backbone of modern infrastructure, enabling seamless connectivity and transforming traditional business models. The evolution of technology has made information more accessible, streamlined processes, and created new opportunities for growth and development across various domains.

Harmony Murphy, an Entrepreneurial Founder and Senior Commercial Head, demonstrates the spirit of resilience and innovation that defines the tech industry. Her journey to this pivotal role was far from conventional, rooted in a working-class background that provided her with a distinctive viewpoint and an unwavering determination. Her early passion for music and curiosity laid the groundwork for her future success in the digital world. Harmony’s unique perspective, combined with her analytical thinking and leadership skills, has allowed her to excel and become a prominent figure in the tech sector.

At Google, Harmony leads the retail business for the UK and Ireland as the Head of Retail. Her role involves crafting innovative advertising strategies and leveraging Google’s suite of products to help top retailers achieve their business goals. Beyond her primary responsibilities, Harmony co-leads The People Strategy for the UK and Ireland within her sales programme, cultivating a culture of empathy, transparency, and open communication. Her commitment to creating an inclusive and equitable environment reflects Google’s mission to make information universally accessible and underscores the importance of leadership in driving positive change within the tech industry.

Let’s explore Harmony’s journey in the tech world:

A Working-Class Background to Tech Leadership

Harmony’s path to the tech world wasn’t paved with coding camps or a childhood spent tinkering with computers. It was forged in the vibrant streets of Finsbury Park, nurtured by the unwavering love of a single mother, and sparked by an insatiable curiosity that led her to a gift for music and devouring books from the local library.

Growing up, Harmony often felt like an outsider. Her “well-educated British accent” contrasted sharply with her working-class background, thriving on church and charity support, her only family member being her mother, enjoying a diverse background of Nigerian and Irish descent, lots of intersectionality, and often reactions leading to puzzled looks and unfair assumptions. But she refused to be defined by others’ perceptions. Instead, she used their doubts as fuel, propelling herself towards a future where her voice would be heard.

Her earliest memories are filled with music. At two years old, she was already scribbling musical notes on scrap paper, a passion that later blossomed into piano lessons, five instruments, scholarships to Trinity Conservatoire, and bursaries from the EMI Musical Sound Foundation. Little did she know music was laying the groundwork for her future in tech. The discipline, pattern recognition, and analytical thinking it cultivated would prove to be essential skills in the digital world.

At 16, she made a life-altering decision to forgo full-time university scholarships and dive straight into the corporate world. She was drawn to the dynamic energy of offices, the collaborative spirit, and the immense potential for innovation. Her diverse background, initially seen as a disadvantage, became her secret weapon. It equipped her with a unique perspective and an unyielding drive to challenge the status quo.

Her career has been a whirlwind journey, taking her from EM record label as an intern to The Telegraph, General Managing Director of Ads UK at eBay, and now a senior advertising leader at Google. Each step has been a learning experience, a chance to expand her horizons, and a platform to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), especially seeing firsthand the hardships her upbringing and community faced due to social and economic background, skin colour, and lack of support!

The road hasn’t always been smooth, and it still isn’t. She’s encountered her fair share of setbacks and doubters and still does. But she doesn’t let ignorant biases block the path; she firmly believes that everyone deserves a seat at the table, regardless of their background. Her story is a testament to the power of curiosity, resilience, and the unwavering belief that we can all achieve extraordinary things. She’s excited to continue using her platform to empower others and create a more inclusive and equitable tech industry.

This is her unconventional path to tech—a journey fuelled by passion, perseverance, and a commitment to making a sustainable difference short and long term.

Leading Retail Business in the Digital Age

At Google, Harmony has the privilege of leading the Retail business for the UK and Ireland as Head of Retail. Her role is a dynamic blend of strategy, creativity, and collaboration. She works closely with top retailers, crafting advertising strategies that leverage Google’s powerful suite of products—from search ads to YouTube campaigns—to help them achieve their business goals.

But it’s not just about selling ads. It’s about understanding the unique challenges and opportunities facing retailers in today’s ever-evolving landscape. Her team focuses on omnichannel retail, which means they’re constantly thinking about how to connect online and offline experiences to create a seamless journey for customers. They’re not just driving clicks and conversions; they’re helping retailers build lasting relationships with their customers.

Her passion for leadership extends beyond the retail realm. She also co-leads the People Strategy for the UK and Ireland within her sales program. This initiative is all about creating a thriving community where everyone feels valued, supported, and empowered to reach their full potential. It’s about fostering empathy, transparency, and open communication, ultimately building a culture where everyone is invested in each other’s success.

At Google, being a leader means more than just managing a team or hitting targets. It’s about inspiring others, driving change, and making a positive impact on the world. It’s about recognising that everyone is part of something bigger than themselves—a company with a mission to make information universally accessible.

Continuous Self-Development

Leading with authenticity has been a transformative journey for Harmony. It’s about stripping away the veneer of perfection and embracing her true self, flaws and all.

Throughout her career, she has been fortunate to learn from some truly remarkable leaders. Watching their diverse styles and approaches shaped her own philosophy, a blend of their wisdom and her personal experiences.

At the heart of her leadership style is a deep-rooted belief in democratic principles. She has witnessed firsthand the power of collective intelligence—how a team of diverse individuals, each with their own unique perspective, can achieve incredible results when they feel empowered to contribute. This belief drives her relentless pursuit of an inclusive environment where everyone’s voice is heard and valued.

Open communication is the cornerstone of this environment. It’s not just about encouraging dialogue; it’s about creating a safe space where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, and even vulnerabilities. Because when we embrace vulnerability, we build trust, and trust is the foundation upon which great teams are built.

For Harmony, leadership isn’t solely about achieving results. It’s about nurturing the human beings behind those results. It’s about genuinely caring for her team members’ well-being and professional growth. That’s why she doesn’t believe in sugarcoating feedback or offering empty praise. Instead, she strives to provide constructive guidance and unwavering support, empowering each individual to reach their full potential.

Her CliftonStrengths assessment was a revelation, highlighting her strategic thinking, communication abilities, and strong inclination towards individualization. As a natural introvert, she has had to overcome her shyness and learn to confidently express herself in various settings. But her introverted nature has also been a gift, making her keenly attuned to non-verbal cues and the unspoken needs of her team members.

It’s a superpower that allows her to identify those who may be struggling and offer them the support they need. She has also had the opportunity through Google to have an executive coach named Emer Kennedy, owner of Mind Canopy, who has been instrumental in her development. Getting a good coach is a must!

Through continuous self-development and the invaluable guidance of an executive coach, she has learned to push her boundaries, embrace vulnerability, and become a more authentic and impactful leader. It’s a journey she encourages all leaders to embark on—to invest in their own growth and seek out mentors who can help them navigate the complexities of leadership with confidence and compassion.

Harmony believes, “By fostering a culture of collaboration, empathy, and continuous learning, we can achieve extraordinary things together.”

Making Knowledge Accessible

The power of technology to democratise information is something that Harmony finds incredibly exciting. It’s about more than just access; it’s about levelling the playing field. When everyone has access to accurate, reliable information, barriers are dismantled, and individuals are empowered to make informed decisions.

This is especially crucial in today’s world, where misinformation runs rampant. Technology allows us to cut through the noise and provide a clear, factual counterpoint. We can set the record straight and equip people with the tools they need to discern truth from fiction.

But it’s not just about debunking myths; it’s about demystifying complexity. Technology can break down intricate concepts into digestible pieces, making knowledge accessible to everyone. Whether it’s upskilling individuals to leverage new opportunities or streamlining processes for small businesses, technology has the potential to transform lives.

Harmony has personally witnessed this first-hand, interacting with countless small business owners at conferences. Often, a few quick tips or a simple process optimisation can skyrocket their growth. Their feedback, both positive and negative, fuels her passion for thought leadership. It’s a reminder that true leadership isn’t just about sharing knowledge; it’s about listening, learning, and adapting.

In the realm of advertising, consumer behaviour, or DEI initiatives, sharing industry insights is about sparking conversations and empowering others. It’s about fostering vulnerability, building confidence, and creating a space where diverse perspectives can enrich our collective understanding.

In Harmony’s view, “Every day is an opportunity for mutual learning and growth, and technology is the catalyst that makes it all possible.”

Building Lasting Connections

Harmony firmly believes that the customer should be at the epicentre of every decision, every strategy, and every action they take. This isn’t just about delivering individual products or services; it’s about crafting a holistic experience that anticipates and fulfils their deepest needs.

To achieve this, organisations must immerse themselves in the customer’s world. They need to understand their challenges, their aspirations, and the constantly evolving landscape they navigate. This means keeping a finger on the pulse of market trends, staying ahead of the curve on emerging technologies, and never losing sight of the human element.

It’s a delicate dance between anticipating long-term needs and adapting to short-term shifts. It’s about striking that perfect balance between personalised experiences and robust data privacy. It’s about winning hearts and minds through compelling brand stories, not just transactional exchanges.

In essence, customer-centricity is about building a lasting connection—one that leaves a positive and memorable mark. It’s about creating experiences that resonate on an emotional level, fostering loyalty that goes far beyond the initial purchase. And when they get it right, it’s incredibly rewarding for both the customer and the business.

Creating a Vibrant Community

Harmony’s brand, Member 23, is a movement that celebrates individuality and self-expression through fashion. They believe that style should be accessible, ethical, and empowering.

Their unique approach involves crafting bespoke, seasonal capsule collections from scratch, with each piece meticulously designed and ethically sourced. They go beyond trends, weaving captivating stories into every garment, creating high-quality, striking pieces that become a symbol of belonging to an inclusive community.

The Member 23 tribe is a global collective of individuals who embrace their unique style and celebrate diversity. They listen closely to their customers, allowing their preferences to guide their sourcing decisions while also keeping a keen eye on market trends and insights.

Beyond clothing, they create unforgettable experiences. Their “brand moments” events in Dublin, London, and New York foster conversations around ethical fashion and diversity and celebrate trailblazing figures in the retail world. Their values resonate through their ambassadors, influencers, and customers, creating a vibrant community that goes beyond transactions.

“Every Step Is an Intention” is their guiding principle. They believe in the power of positive choices and strive to create a world where fashion empowers individuals to express themselves authentically and make a meaningful impact.

Leading in the Digital Marketplace

Harmony’s time at eBay was a career-defining chapter filled with extraordinary highlights. Leading eBay Ads UK gave her a unique vantage point, overseeing multiple facets of the business and gaining a deep understanding of how they are interconnected. It was a masterclass in business acumen, collaborating globally with seasoned leaders who pushed her to grow and evolve.

The team she assembled was exceptional—a mix of top talent from across the UK industry and within eBay. Their ability to pivot and support each other was second to none, creating an environment of trust and collaboration that yielded remarkable results.

Then came COVID, a seismic shift that tested their resilience. Demand surged, but overnight, their vibrant, collaborative workspace became a collection of virtual screens. They had to prioritise the well-being of their team, customers, and new hires, fostering a sense of connection and belonging in a remote world.

Witnessing the team, half of whom were hired virtually during the pandemic, come together and thrive was truly inspiring. It didn’t matter if they were seasoned veterans or new recruits; everyone felt empowered to contribute their ideas and expertise.

This electric culture extended beyond their department. They forged deeper connections with the core business, gaining a profound understanding of their goals and aspirations. This led to seamless collaborations and further cross-business cohesion.

During this time, their incredible CFO of Advertising, Sonia Moscatelli Diwane, became a source of inspiration. Her business acumen was undeniable, but it was her personal pursuits, like ultra-marathons and treks to Nepal, that sparked a shift in Harmony’s thinking. As lockdown lifted, she began reflecting on her work-life balance and her personal goals. It was then that she penned a list, with Everest at the top.

Inspiring the Next Generation

Beyond summiting Everest, Harmony’s ambition was to do so alongside one of the few female guides to conquer the peak, a powerful statement in a male-dominated industry. It was about shining a spotlight on gender inequality and empowering women worldwide to challenge norms and blaze their own trails.

Her journey led her to a female-run orphanage in Nepal, where she witnessed firsthand the cultural disparities faced by girls in that society. The resilience and determination of those women, supporting each other to survive and thrive, were deeply inspiring. She felt compelled to share their stories, amplify their voices, and provide them with a platform and financial support.

Speaking at universities is her way of igniting the flame of the next generation. She wants young people to know that they can defy expectations and achieve their wildest dreams. She is living proof that passion and perseverance can overcome obstacles, and she is determined to continue pushing her boundaries.

Growing up, Harmony was that teenager daydreaming in class, her hunger for life and ambition far outweighing any physical hunger. That fire still burns within her. We have a limited time on this earth, and she refuses to waste it dragging others down or holding anyone back. There’s enough space and opportunity for everyone to rise.

She understands the unique challenges faced by women and minorities in the business world, where closed doors and setbacks can feel relentless. But if we can wedge those doors open, create pathways for others, and strive for balance and equality, we can leave a trail for those who follow. We can climb Everest together, and that’s the message she wants to leave with the world.

Envisioning the Future of Digital Advertising

Harmony envisions a future where digital advertising is not just about reach and frequency but about driving positive impact. Google is uniquely positioned to lead this transformation, leveraging AI to ensure ads are socially beneficial, unbiased, safe, accountable, and incorporate privacy design principles.