SHREVEPORT – Don’t be afraid to ask, and don’t be afraid to accept. If LSUS commencement speaker Katy Murray’s career displays one tenet, it’d be that. Murray will deliver the commencement message at LSUS’s graduation on Friday at Brookshire Grocery Arena.
Murray climbed the corporate accounting ladder in her early career, but when a chief financial officer position opened at i2 Technologies, the Dallas-based maker of supply-chain management software where she oversaw accounting, she didn’t think she was ready. Not until mentor Robert Crandall, former president of American Airlines and chairman of i2’s audit committee, convinced her and the company that Murray was a great fit as a CFO.
“I was like, ‘Are you sure?” Murray told the website CFO.com in a 2008 interview. “I questioned myself, wondered if I was the person who could do this. (Crandall) told me, ‘Katy, you can do it. You’re the one. Take the opportunity.”
At Age 35 when she accepted the CFO position at i2 in 2003, Murray quickly assimilated to the role before pursuing other similar positions after 18 months. In the 15 years since, Murray has held the CFO title in six different major companies that were global players in their industries. “I will tell everyone that regardless of what your background is, you have to get out from behind your desk,” Murray said. “Take an interest in what your company does, get to know other departments and what they do. I always wanted to be a part of the decision making. As opportunities were presented to be involved in cross-functional projects, or lead a project, I always raised my hand. I didn’t always get it, but people remembered that I had asked. I put in the hours, and I asked various leaders in the company if they would mentor me. Don’t be afraid to ask.”
In 2022, the Shreveport native was named president of the DallasNews Corporation, which publishes the Dallas Morning News. Murray’s experience was mostly in corporate services and technology companies, but the opportunity to offer a different perspective to a media company was intriguing when she joined DallasNews Corporation in 2015.
“I had zero journalism or media experience … but they were looking to hire someone from outside the industry,” Murray said. “What I loved and still love about this organization is our focus on civic engagement and wanting to provide accurate and balanced information for our community. My experience in tech companies and service-based companies gave me a different view to bring to the table. I was not afraid to ask questions because I was new, and I would question why we did things a certain way. They weren’t always easy conversations, but they were needed.”
Just as Murray’s career path didn’t follow a straight line, her educational path also took detours. A graduate of St. Vincent’s Academy in 1986, Murray attended LSU Baton Rouge for three semesters before transferring to LSU Shreveport. Completing a bachelor's in accounting in 1991, Murray said LSUS allowed her to regain and sharpen her focus on her education. “I had fun in college,” Murray said. “But I decided that I had to get serious and focus, and that’s what LSUS gave me with great professors and smaller class size. “I knew that I was pursuing accounting/finance, and if I was going to get my master's degree, I needed to get serious. But I look back on my time at LSUS and how many of my best friends are from that time.”
Murray completed a master's in accounting in 1992 at LSU Baton Rouge and began her ascent into the accounting world. She said that for people who don’t follow the most traditional path doesn't mean they can’t achieve career success at the highest level. “I love seeing what LSUS has become and having so many online students,” Murray said. “As a leader in my company, I love hearing about team members going to college to pursue a degree.
“Let your employer know and ask for their support, because I have tremendous respect for individuals who are so driven that they take classes at night or on the weekends. Everything is possible with focus, determination, and patience.”