Daniel McMurray tells us about his new role as chief catalyst at The Crowd and offers some careers advice.
Tell us about your new role at The Crowd and how you landed it
Originally from Australia, I relocated to London in January after three years based in Switzerland and Germany. I bring more than 16 years’ experience of creating major events across four continents to The Crowd.
In my new role as chief catalyst, I am charged with creating, curating and facilitating programmes that generate catalytic reactions in The Crowd. As in chemistry, a crowd catalyst is the unsung element that accelerates the reactions in the group, helping to combine diverse ideas, people, experiences and perspectives in interesting, inspiring and productive new ways.
The catalyst provides the spark, but the crowd provides the fuel that powers the reaction, leading to new ways of thinking and acting, new initiatives, new outcomes and new innovations.
What has helped you get to where you are in your career?
A deep curiosity and a genuine, unquenchable hunger for new ideas, new innovations and new human connections. I am a relentless optimist, inspired by smart, passionate, committed people who want to change the world for the better. These qualities have given me the drive to constantly search for ways I can make a difference through the work I do.
What qualifications have been the most necessary or beneficial?
I have a Bachelor of Arts (English, Linguistics, Communications & Media), a Bachelor of Laws and a Master of International Law. Whilst none of these qualifications have been directly relevant to the roles I’ve had or the businesses I’ve led, they have helped shape the way I think about the world and how I structure my approach to challenges and problems.
I believe that all knowledge is valuable, often in ways you don’t expect, so I’m committed to lifelong and broad-based learning. In recent years, as my passion for sustainability, science, international affairs and climate action has grown, I’ve completed multiple MOOCs through leading global universities and these have proven to be both enormously enjoyable and useful for my career.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
The real highlights for me have been some of the great events I’ve worked on in partnership with, or as a consultant to leading organisations, most recently with Impact Hub Global Network based in Berlin leading the Unlikely Allies 2016 – Future of Cities Festival in Seattle, and the prestigious European Forum Alpbach in Austria, focused on the SDGs, working closely with Professor Jeffrey Sachs and senior leaders from the WBCSD, IIASA, World Bank, WTO and the Centre for New Structural Economics at Peking University.
What have been the stumbling blocks or barriers along the way? And how did you adapt to these challenges?
As an entrepreneur and small business owner, there have been plenty of stumbling blocks, false starts, financial near-death-experiences and glorious failures to overcome. Pure pig-headed stubborn resilience has seen me adapt and survive each time.
What sustainability issues are currently closest to your heart?
As a Climate Reality Leader with former US Vice President, Al Gore’s NGO, The Climate Reality Project, and with a long-term partner who is a climate scientist, I am especially passionate about climate change adaptation and mitigation. I have done a lot of presenting to business and community groups about the issue, and try to frame it as an opportunity to radically improve the world, rather than just the existential threat it also presents.
As a child of the beach and avid surfer, free-diver and long distance ocean swimmer, ocean issues are also deeply personal to me and my studies in international law have made me passionate about human rights, peace building and environmental protection.
What aspects of your new role are you looking forward to the most?
The Crowd is home to a really impressive network of inspired and inspiring individuals with a passion for sustainability. I am looking forward to tapping into the wisdom of The Crowd and learning from their collective knowledge and experience.
I am also inspired by the challenge of helping to set the agenda for the UK’s purposeful business community and expanding the focus of The Crowd Forums into new areas around exponential and disruptive technologies, transformative ideas and world-changing innovations.
What advice would you give to others looking to embark on a career in sustainability?
Be authentic. Be passionate. Be prepared to go “all-in”. Never give up. Stay optimistic. Never stop learning and questioning. Channel your dissatisfaction and anger with how the world is, into a fierce, relentless and positive determination to create the world you want. Believe in yourself and the inherent goodness of other people.