Meet Laura Murphy, 37, partner at Kevlar Development Group and Duncan Harwood Custom Homes, and one of our 20 Under 40 Class of 2021 recipients
AS PART OF a husband-and-wife business duo, Laura Murphy grew her businesses ― Kevlar Development Group and Duncan Harwood Custom Homes ― out of a side hustle established while working in the pharmaceutical industry. Starting with rental properties and a plan to move acquired capital into land and commercial development, she now oversees numerous development sites and millions of dollars in construction across the London region. With three children and a busy family life, an overarching purpose in her business life is to demonstrate to young people the capabilities and potential for women in a traditionally male-dominated environment, as well as encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs to gain the confidence to take on challenges and chase their dreams.
What do you count as your biggest career achievement?
My personal biggest achievement within the businesses is definitely the creation of a strong, respected name for myself as a female professional in a male-dominated industry. I used to call people to ask if they would be interested in working with our company, only to have people ask to speak to my boss or my husband. It’s safe to say those organizations are no longer at the top of my call-back list.
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Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to the younger you?
Take the risk! After university, I got my dream job — or so I thought. I worked in the corporate world with a great salary, benefits and bonus. But I needed more. I needed to be in control of my destiny, but I was also incredibly risk adverse. We started slowly investing into real estate while balancing our day jobs to mitigate risk. Now, we take calculated risks daily. Is it scary? Yep, and so worth it!
What’s left, professionally or personally?
In my life, my personal and business goals are on a sliding scale. They are not a static achievement. A goal seems so final, and I always want — and expect — more from myself. I would like to use our businesses to provide service to some of the charities that I am passionate about. Developing a philanthropic arm of our business is very important to me as our companies grow. My own personal success relies heavily on what I can do for others. It is our duty to give back where we can.
An old friend is coming to town – where are you taking them to eat?