Employee Portrait Gallery—Laurie Murphy

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Laurie Murphy, left, and business programmer Beverly Harper consider an accounting issue in 1988. (Photo by Rob Brown)

 

In 1974 when Laurie Zmuda was 17 and searching for a summer job, she never imagined that the opening for an accounting clerk in the WHOI Payroll Office would turn into a 31-year career. “What compelled me to stay,” she said “is the quality of co-workers, encouragement to continue my education, and the opportunity to make a contribution.” It was her mentor, Jan Battee, former head of payroll, who urged Laurie to continue her education. Along the way she met Jay Murphy, who works in the Facilities Services group, when he visited his sister, Cheryl, who worked with Laurie in payroll.  They were married in 1981.  While raising a daughter, Laurie earned associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, and completed the requirements to become a certified payroll professional with the American Payroll Association in 1992.

Laurie rose through the ranks to become assistant controller in 2000. Her current job includes four main responsibilities: accounts receivable, compliance with government regulations, treasury operations, and payroll. She says her biggest challenge was implementation in 1989 of the Bi-Tech HR/Payroll module that automated many formerly manual steps.

“Bi-Tech required a lot of customization, and it was the kind of challenge Laurie really enjoys,” said Controller Dave Stephens, who has worked with Laurie for five years. “In her career, she easily advanced from the fairly black-and-white regulations of payroll to the gray area of government cost accounting regulations, where you need to develop a rationale for your interpretation and defend your position.”

Early in her career she learned the value of defending her position. One day a ship captain came to payroll, yelling and screaming. “I was trembling underneath,” she said, “but I calmly said ‘I don’t let my husband talk to me like that, and until you address me in a respectful way, this conversation is over.’ He paused for a second, then apologized. From then on, we were fine.”

On her own time, Laurie contributes community service to Easter Seals and the Falmouth Volunteers in Public Schools mentoring program. She was honored in 1994 with the Unsung Heroine Award from the Massachusetts Easter Seal Society for organizing annual WHOI softball teams that raised more than $12,000 for the charity. Laurie also makes time for tennis and golf.

 

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