ABBYY Spotlight: Neil Murphy, Global Channel Chief and SVP Sales EMEA

ABBYY has certainly come a long way since Neil Murphy joined our team. In fact, he is one of the leading figures behind our move into the intelligent automation market. Read his interview to find out how all that came about, and hear why, despite being a massive football fan, he’s not so excited about watching the World Cup this year.

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What attracted you to ABBYY?

I joined ABBYY back in 2016 but had known of the company for many years. At that time, I saw ABBYY as having an impressive technology with excellent brand reputation but being little known outside of the document capture market. So, the attraction for me was the opportunity to be part of a company that wanted to change and the fact I could see a way to make an impact to help it grow quickly.

Being given a high degree of autonomy to drive success is also very important to me and the leadership team at ABBYY was very enthusiastic and supportive of this. I was leaving a good job where I was successful but, looking back, it was a fantastic decision.

Tell us your title and a bit about your role and journey at ABBYY so far

I’ll start with the journey. It’s been a great six years with personal progression and meeting some fantastic people. I started as Sales Director for the UK & Ireland and helped lead the team to over achievement in my first full year. While I was building the UK business and closing deals in that first year, I was also planning for the longer term by generating new strategic alliances that would transpire to accelerate ABBYY’s brand and growth on a global basis. One of these relationships helped bring ABBYY into the Intelligent Automation market at a very early stage as a highly complementary technology to give robotic process automation (RPA) bots the ability to understand and extract content from documents, giving us a leading position in what is now called Intelligent Document Processing.

Thanks to the trust and autonomy ABBYY showed, I was able to pursue strategic business development on a global basis when I was made VP Global Business Development in 2018 with a focus on helping drive ABBYY’s success into the RPA and Intelligent Automation markets. This allowed me to build a team across the US, EMEA and India with some of the smartest people I have ever worked with. That role eventually evolved into heading up all channel business as Global Channel Chief in 2021, and now I have the additional position as SVP Sales EMEA.

What does a typical day look like for you at ABBYY?

Gym first thing in the morning while dodging being ambushed by my kids looking for all sorts of things that they shouldn’t be eating at 6am! In the UK, many of us work from home but have the benefit of a great office in Bank, Central London, so I operate in a hybrid model between the two. Typically, I take some time to answer emails from overnight and then get on calls with various members of the team to discuss current opportunities, but I am at my happiest engaged alongside them with our partners and customers. Ultimately, I want the team to have the autonomy and space to operate that I was given, so I try to ensure this happens while getting involved where required.

What keeps you going, and what do you enjoy the most in your role, any highlights?

The team I get to work with is what keeps me going. COVID really impacted the amount of time we have spent together in the last couple of years, but I’m looking forward to getting more face time over the coming months. I love a deal, and the sense of excitement when I or the team is working on a significant opportunity is always palpable and the part that I enjoy the most.

What was your previous experience before ABBYY?

I have spent all my career working within the automation market, particularly document and process automation, and previous to ABBYY worked as EMEA Solutions Director for Kodak Alaris, who are a leader in the document digitisation market. My most formative role, however, was for one of their competitors, Bell & Howell, where I was the only employee covering the UK, Ireland, Benelux, and Eastern Europe (all other resources were based out of the US, so no local support, marketing etc). All the business was dependent on me, so it quickly taught me the importance of resilience and self-reliance for my success. I also had a fantastic boss who believed in me and gave me all the autonomy I needed.

Your top advice to someone joining ABBYY in your function?

Be responsible for your own success. ABBYY will look to help and support you, but you are the one that really makes it happen. And most of all, have fun doing it! If this sounds interesting, then check out our open positions.

How do you spend your free time?

Family first. I have three kids (two boys, eight and 11, and a 15-year-old daughter) so there’s always one of them to watch playing in a football match or swimming, or ballet.

Neil Murphy ABBY

I also have a very lovely wife who I don’t deserve, so we love to spend some time together when we get the chance. I go to the gym a lot and play football every week, but the knees are definitely feeling it more now I am in my 40s! I’m also a bit of a nerd at perfecting certain things. At the moment it is coffee and pizza, so I am the designated chef and barista when we entertain our friends at home.

Neil Murphy ABBYY

If you could have one wish come true, what would it be?

Since I am from Ireland, I wish my team was in the World Cup that's going on right now. It's been 20 years since we were last there, I can't believe it! My kids have been supporting England, so there were some gloomy faces at home on Saturday when they were knocked out against France.

What’s your pet peeve?

Zoom calls. Clearly, they were a necessity over lock-down, but I think we miss too much of the human aspect when we don't connect in person.

Name any inspirational book/movie/music you have recently discovered or are enjoying at the moment

Hard to pick one in particular recently, but my favourite book is Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I first read it over 20 years ago.

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