A Global Opportunity: Jonathan Murray (BIB/09)
Sprott School of Business alumnus Jonathan Murray has seen a lot for a 23-year-old.
From meeting with potential clients in the Maldives to organizing a company presentation at the World Expo in Shanghai, Murray has made the most of his time since graduating from Sprott’s Bachelor of International Business program in 2009.
Murray is the Director of Global Strategies for Clearford Industries (TSX-V: CLI), a small Ottawa-based engineering design firm.
In this role, Murray has been on multiple trade missions and business trips to Asia and South America, helping sell Clearford’s patented Small Bore Sewer, a wastewater collection system that provides servicing with superior operational and environmental performance at a significantly lower cost when compared to historic gravity sewers.
How Murray ended up in this role is a testament to his hard work and persistence, characteristics he says he developed during his time at Carleton.
Originally from the Ottawa area, Murray says when it came time to choose a university, Carleton’s campus really stood out to him.
“It’s a little bit more closed off, so you can really feel the university culture.”
Murray says he decided to study international business because it would allow him to spend a year abroad and once he was in the program, he discovered the new business opportunities emerging in a globalized world.
“I realized at Carleton that the global economy is growing and everyone is interconnected,” he says. “You can be working in Ottawa, dealing with clients half-way around the world and make a difference in their lives.”
In the third year of the Bachelor of International Business program, students spend a full academic year studying abroad. In 2008, Murray attended the Adolfo Ibáñez University in Chile. The business school is much smaller than what Murray was used to at Carleton, with only a few small buildings on the Viña del Mar campus.
“The buildings themselves were more similar to houses than the school buildings we have here,” he says. “Maybe a few rooms each with a lecture hall.”
However, Murray says adjusting to the classes there was relatively easy, as learning about business is done in a style that crosses languages and borders.
“Business is a collaborative style of learning, where the professors and the students have a dialogue,” he says.
After graduating in summer 2009 Murray joined his fellow graduates in the job hunt. However, it didn’t take long to find one.
Murray had previously worked for current Clearford CEO Bruce Linton during his second year of university.
The pair kept in touch while Murray finished his degree and, after graduating, he came to Linton with a Canadian government program that would pay $30,000 of a new graduate’s salary for a year.
“I approached him very softly and said: ‘Listen, I know you don’t have a position for me right now, but I have this program that would allow Clearford to hire me and the Canadian government would pay for it for a year.’”
Linton said “Sign us up.”
Coincidentally, Murray joined Clearford just as the company was beginning to move its product to international markets.
Murray says that trade missions to China and India in late 2009 saw a lot of success and showed that the Small Bore Sewer system could have a lot of potential overseas.
“We definitely knew we had something for those markets, so we started to push hard,” he says.
As Clearford expanded internationally, Murray transitioned into his current role as Director of Global Strategies.
Murray says he spends much of his time searching for potential clients and getting new projects off the ground so that they can be handed off to Clearford’s engineering department.
The other part of his job is travelling abroad to meet potential clients, visiting job sites and helping Clearford establish itself internationally.
However, travelling to different and exotic locales isn’t a vacation for Murray.
“They are really intensive trips,” he says. “We land around midnight, wake up a 6 a.m., have a quick briefing and breakfast, then meetings start at 8 a.m., go until 8 p.m., then we catch a late flight to a new city and start all over again.”
After going on several trade missions to Asia with Clearford, including missions to Hong Kong, Shanghai and India, Murray now focuses much of his efforts on South America.
In the first half of 2011 alone, Murray had been on four trips there, visiting Peru, Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela multiple times.
While Murray continues to confront new challenges every day, he says the skills he learned at Carleton help him succeed in the business world.
“Know what your goals are,” he said. “If the first path to that goal doesn’t work, try another and then another until you find your way.”
Written by: Mitchell Vandenborn