When Malik Murray (BUS ’96, MBA ’04) graduated from DePaul’s undergraduate finance program, his mother, Linda Murray, a former high school principal with two master’s degrees, would not give Murray his diploma.
“When I saw my parents at the conclusion of the ceremony, my mom took my diploma and said, ‘You’re not done yet,’” Murray recalls. “So in her mind she was already thinking about me going to graduate school.”
Recruited by former DePaul Blue Demons basketball coach Joey Meyer (CSH ’71), Murray attended DePaul on a full basketball scholarship and, like his father, Leonard Murray, who is a judge, had a natural gift for athletics. Along with his fellow teammates, Murray had dreams of playing in the NBA.
As an undergraduate, Murray interned at First Chicago Futures after being introduced to the industry by Brett Burkholder (BUS ’83) and worked every summer in the eurodollar pits at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Burkholder, an eighth-round NBA draft pick, showed Murray he could earn an NBA salary working in investment finance.
“I have so many examples of experiences where people have shown me what was possible in life, in business, and personally,” says Murray. “I took it in like a sponge.” Murray had worked for eight years in finance when his employer, First Chicago Bank, now part of JPMorgan Chase, told him the company would subsidize his tuition. Most of his peers in the industry had MBA degrees, so Murray knew he would need a graduate degree to continue advancing in his career. Although he looked at other graduate programs, DePaul, a “city school,” felt like home.
“Ultimately, I decided to come here and it’s a decision that, hands down, is the best one I made at the time,” says Murray, who now works as senior vice president of institutional marketing and client services at Chicago-based Ariel Investments, which is the first African American-owned investment management firm in the country.
I’m in a stage of my life where I really want to think about the people behind me, because I think that’s very important. It’s not enough to just look back, you have to reach back. I’m a big believer in that.” – Malik Murray
True to the Vincentian values he learned at DePaul, Murray gives back to the community and helps others find their own path. He’s a graduate of the Greater Chicago Leadership Fellows Program and sits on the boards of St. Ignatius College Prep, where he attended high school, and Ariel Community Academy. He is also director of the National Association of Securities Professionals.
“I’m in a stage of my life where I really want to think about the people behind me, because I think that’s very important,” he says. “It’s not enough to just look back, you have to reach back. I’m a big believer in that. So while I’m kind of entering a window of having some professional success, I also realize that life is much bigger than me, and I welcome the responsibility to help future generations to have the opportunity to participate fully in the American economy.”
For Adam Robinson (MBA ’03), an MBA was key to launching his own business.
Robinson took management Professor Harold Welsch’s (BUS ’66, MBA ’68) new venture formation class; in it, he built the business plan for Illuma, a recruitment company that Robinson ran for six years. Robinson later co-founded Hireology, a software company that helps organizations improve and systemize their hiring processes. In addition to overseeing Hireology, Robinson is a nationally recognized keynote speaker, an author, a podcast host and an Inc. Magazine columnist.
Hireology was No. 4 on Crain’s Chicago Business 2018 Fast 50 list. In 2017, the company expanded from 111 to 129 employees. Robinson currently serves as CEO.
“The value (from DePaul) was in the network that I built,” Robinson says. “Some of my first connections to entrepreneurs were through the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center and guest speakers Dr. Welsch brought in. Here were people who learned these things and accomplished things I aspired to accomplish.” He credits the network that he built through his DePaul MBA program with helping his business grow.
Robinson studied real estate finance at DePaul and learned the skills that allowed him to manage finance and accounting for the first four years of running Hireology. “I was a history major at (the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign),” he says. “I had never taken an accounting or business course in my life. Most first-time business owners struggle with accounting and finance, and I struggled less because I had that education.”
“What I liked most about the program were the people,” he says. “Most, if not everyone in the class, were working. They were in careers, and they were contributing real perspectives and calling on their own real-world experience, (and) that contributed to the class. That made a big difference.”
By Jaclyn Lansbery
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