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Debra Murphy

Fellow of the University of Wollongong

Citation orated by Associate Professor David Vance

Chancellor, I present to you Debra Murphy.

Over the past two decades, Debra Murphy has been a driving force in advancing the Illawarra’s capabilities and potential, fusing collaboration, innovation and tenacity to influence positive change.

Debra is CEO of Regional Development Australia Illawarra (RDAI), where she drives advocacy and economic development initiatives to support growth in the region and provides strategic input into national and state-based government regional development programs. Since commencing in this pivotal role in 2016 she has led important economic development projects providing a catalyst for change in the region and united education, industry and all levels of government in a shared vision of sustainable growth and prosperity.

Undertaking her MBA at UOW with no previous university studies, Debra graduated with distinction in 1999. Her exceptional contribution to the region began with a role mapping growth industry sectors for the Illawarra Regional Development Board. She joined the Australian Industry Group as Regional Manager in 2001, where she advocated for the NSW Government’s Ports Growth Strategy, developed skills shortage and safety taskforces, and was Inaugural Chair of the Illawarra’s i3net. Moving to BHP Billiton, she worked to achieve significant state regulatory change that eliminated a costly supply chain bottleneck at the port, subsequently establishing her own management consultancy and serving as National Strategic Relations Manager for Thiess.

Immediately prior to her current role, Debra served as CEO of the Illawarra Business Chamber where she negotiated a merger with the NSW Business Chamber, developed the innovative Illawarra First initiative and established a million-dollar research fund.

Debra is a proud alumna and vocal advocate of UOW, deeply invested in its ongoing success and regional economic development objectives. She actively promotes the value of university education and Sydney Business School in particular, leading numerous high-impact collaborations including the Leadership Illawarra Program and providing insight to key program and structural reviews. She is a committed partner for the university in several current initiatives, from Blue Economy – Shellharbour to the Illawarra-Shoalhaven Smart City Strategy, and is a tenant and supporter of SmartSpace, a long-standing member of the UOW Community Reference Group, and a former UniCentre board director. These are but a few of the strong bonds she continues to nurture with UOW.

Debra gives much time and energy to actively inspiring, supporting and mentoring others so that they too can be empowered to create positive transformation.

Chancellor, Debra Murphy is a valued asset to UOW and the Illawarra. Through tireless determination, vision and ability to influence genuine change, she continues to profoundly impact the future of the University and of the region we strive together to advance.

Chancellor, it is a privilege and a pleasure to present Debra Murphy for admission as a Fellow of the University of Wollongong.

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