Rachel Murphy

Rachel is the CEO at Difrent, a professional services partner to ‘tech for good’ organisations delivering business efficiencies by challenging the status quo for tech-enabled business transformation’.

Rachel also led the transformation programme of all patient facing, self-care and prevention activities within the Paperless 2020 Programme in the NHS, a £270m digital transformation of all patient facing services across the NHS.

Rachel has an exceptional record defining and executing strategy at top level to deliver change, improve performance and ensure first-class digital/technology services and solutions for blue-chip organisations across multiple sectors.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

When I left school, I was keen to start working rather than head to Uni; I suspected I would party hard for 3 years and not get a degree so the workplace called.  I started out project managing and working for the Big 4 consultancies and then moved on to running IT teams, then departments, my first CIO role was Department for Education.  I’ve always been ambitious and heavily motivated, switching off is more my challenge!  Since I led the patient-facing transformation of the NHS I had a huge desire to set up and run the company I couldn’t find to buy services from when I worked in Government; that is Difrent.  I’m a step mum to three and gran to three (that’s a little Jeremy Kyle-esque at 41!)

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Absolutely not; if anyone had told me I was going to be working in IT I would have been surprised but I always had a great understanding of businesses, being commercial and doing a deal seemed to come very naturally to me from an early age.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Absolutely loads; I didn’t always get jobs that I wanted, I regularly disliked bosses that I worked for and it took quite a lot of soul searching for me to understand the reasons behind these.  Sometimes they just weren’t that capable and sometimes I viewed my role as a steppingstone to theirs; being shy isn’t really my forte.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Founding and growing my delivery business, Difrent.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Working hard – I don’t think there are any easy routes to success.  I am confident and I know I am capable, but I would fail as a leader if I didn’t work at least as hard as I expect my team to.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Staying relevant is key and I think being able to translate technology into business benefits is the most important piece of advice.  No one really wants to know how the cloud works; well at least I don’t!  I just want to know I have a service that works, it’s cost-efficient and on an SLA I can manage.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I think there are substantially fewer barriers than there were 20 years ago.  I would still like to see more women in Tech and taking this up a level I would like to see more women CEO’s running businesses globally.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

I think to give them the opportunity to be open about the challenges they have but expecting them to also table some solutions.  Mentoring is useful and often male to female and co-coaching.

There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

If I could wave a magic wand I would have it equal at 50%. Equal pay, equal respect and equal access.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Techcrunch, Arlan Hamilton podcast: Your first million, Wired