It’s all too common for peoples’ minds to wander to life’s “what if's” or the “what could have been.”
But for Tony Murphy, Manufacturing Excellence Lead at International Paper, his decision to enter a pulp and paper career was a decision he'd never look back on or rethink.
Murphy grew up in the pulp and paper town of New Bern, North Carolina, but he had very little knowledge of the industry. His exploration into the pulp and paper industry started as a high school senior looking to further his education at North Carolina State University.
“I found that a pulp and paper degree offered many lucrative career opportunities. I was surprised to learn that this degree provided the highest starting salary out of all other degrees at NC State,” said Murphy.
At his job, Murphy notes there are endless opportunities for a variety of work – no two days are quite the same in his day-to-day job.
“You don’t always know what the day will bring when you come to work. You could be working with operations to troubleshoot process breaks, identifying areas for cost reduction, running trials, or working to develop new engineers and interns for the industry,” he said.
When asked what the industry means to Murphy and his family, he replies “opportunity.”
“The pulp and paper industry has afforded me the opportunity to work within a stable industry and to provide my family with a lifestyle that is better than the one my parents were able to provide for me," Murphy says. "The industry has also allowed me to set an example for my children that through hard work, a person can be successful and achieve the American Dream.”
What are some other opportunities he sees in the industry? Murphy believes it’s sustainability and innovation.
"Doing more with less. It not only makes sense from an environmental standpoint, but it makes good financial sense. Both our shareholders and customers demand it of us," he said. "Also, because trees are a renewable resource, I see our scientists continuing to expand the products that are made from them to help us in our everyday lives."
In Murphy’s 25 years of service, he’s noticed many changes in the pulp and paper industry and can see the industry's future.
"The industry is definitely more diverse from when I started 25 years ago. It has been great to see the industry evolve to include more people of color and women,” he says. “I believe diversity in the workforce helps to drive the best possible solutions in the workplace."