University of Tennessee

Cam Murphy

ADMBA Alum Growing Aerospace Maintenance Company With Family Vision

Aerospace & Defense and Executive Education - Alumni

Cam Murphy came of age in the business of commercial aircraft maintenance. As a young man under 30 taking a leadership role in his family’s company, he chose the Haslam Aerospace and Defense MBA to gain strategic perspective.

“I’m really excited come into work every day because I believe we have a bright future,” says Murphy, who is managing director at his family’s Miami-based FEAM. “I feel like I’m building a dream team as we grow. My father definitely hand-picked some amazing people, and I’m constantly learning from them.”

Murphy, who was recently featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for Manufacturing and Industry, credits his father, Fred, with growing the company from a two-person shop in 1993 to a 700-employee company operating in 27 cities. The third-party service FEAM provides at airports is known as “line maintenance” and includes airplane repairs done at the gate.

The younger Murphy now applies his University of Tennessee, Knoxville, education to his management role late into every night with a determined and open leadership style.

“I’m a night owl,” Murphy says with a chuckle. “I give my cell phone to everyone within the organization and tell people that I will always respond. I never want to be separated from what our people do day-to-day, or for them to feel they cannot give feedback. I drive everyone here crazy with lean and continuous improvement strategies.”

Murphy explains that completing the Haslam ADMBA gave him the ability to combine the pieces of his knowledge into coherent strategy.

“The training I got from my Haslam MBA catapulted me like you can’t even imagine,” Murphy says. “I’m at the point where I analyze and make data-driven decisions, and nothing comes from the gut. I’m a firm believer in operations excellence, and the training in Lean Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints changed my entire perspective on business.”

Murphy learned to approach business problems as opportunities because “that can be a path to higher efficacy,” he says. “Our customers really are strategic partners. We succeed when they do. That type of strategy and thinking made a huge impact on me.”

Despite being honored by Forbes and having been the youngest student in an MBA class that included executives from organizations including Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Lockheed Martin and the Air Force, Murphy practices humility in guiding the company his father built.

“Every blessing can be a burden,” he says. “Our burden right now is that we have growing pains. My father dedicated every day of his life to this business – he and my mother – so I’ve really got to thank them for that foundation. Their dedication motivates me when I think of the sacrifices they made. Many of the people from the organization have seen me grow up from when I was a baby, so I always talk about the FEAM team or the FEAM family. Their day-to-day efforts truly make the impossible possible for all of our customers. I never want us to lose the culture of treating each other within the organization like family and team members because teams have common goals. Our common goal is to satisfy our customers.”