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For Murphy, The Sky Is No Limit

For Murphy, The Sky Is No LimitTufts graduate Dan Murphy is bringing aerospace and defense company ATK to new heights, with the support of his tried and true team.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.18.05] “Welcome home, friends,” was the message the crew of the shuttle Discovery received from mission control on August 9 when NASA’s first space mission since the Columbia tragedy of 2003 came to a successful completion. Two weeks earlier, when the shuttle went hurtling into space, Tufts graduate Dan Murphy had a front-row seat in the NASA launch complex, a first for the retired Navy Vice Admiral whose company helped to make the mission possible.

“I feel excited about it,” Murphy, CEO and chairman of Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK), told the Minneapolis Star Tribune prior to Discovery’s blast-off into space, which was powered by ATK’s reusable solid rock motors. The Edina, Minn.-based defense and aerospace company also helped to develop, along with NASA, a shuttle wing repair kit that the crew took along and tested during its journey.

Murphy, who spent 30 years in the Navy, became head of ATK in 2003. Since then, the Naval Academy graduate has been on a mission to grow the company and expand its reach in the defense, aerospace and ammunitions worlds.

“We are growing a thriving company right now,” Murphy, who received a Master of Arts, Law and Diplomacy degree from The Fletcher School, said to the newspaper.

Since Murphy assumed the lead role at ATK, the company has broadened its horizons by acquiring several enterprises that specialize in propellant tanks and satellite components for the space industry and hypervelocity and air-breathing systems for space vehicles, missiles and projectiles.

As a result of the acquisitions, ATK has a stronger foot in the industry door.

“What has changed is that we are now recognized within the industry as a company that performs very well, that has a solid business strategy that it is executing well,” Murphy explained to the Star Tribune.

Although Murphy doesn’t mind that ATK’s stock has grown 44 percent since he took the helm, he says that he wants to keep the 14,000-employee company relatively small.

“The principal advantage of being a smaller company is agility in decision making, resource allocation and managing your people,” Murphy said in a 2004 interview with DefenseNews. “Everybody’s engaged in our priorities and strategy.”

And, from the very beginning, Murphy has returned that favor by taking a genuine interest in the people who make his company tick.

“Dan is a dynamic leader,” Peter Arment, an analyst at JSA Research Inc. in Rhode Island, told the Star Tribune. “He is a person a lot of people would love to work for.”

Murphy takes no individual credit for the success ATK has achieved - describing it, instead, as a team effort.

“Inclusiveness is the one word that best describes my approach,” Murphy told the Star Tribune. “I describe myself not as an independent achiever – I am a team member. That is what drives me. It is so important that people know that they have real value and that they are part of a team. Once those two things are known…there is almost nothing that you can’t accomplish.”











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