Ingrid Murray: On doing it all

"I have no patience at all, I want everything today, now," Ingrid Murray laughs. And for the Jamaican-born and raised powerhouse CEO of Brooklyn, New York-based Prospect Cleaning Service Inc, impatience has been a virtue.

At no point could Ingrid Murray afford to wait. At 14 years old she had to work at a Tastee patty outlet after being thrust into the role of caretaker for her younger brother after their mother migrated to the United States. At one point, she also sang for money, utilising her church choir-crafted voice. She jokes that she was the first female taxi driver in the Naggo Head community. And, to top it off, she dropped everything in Jamaica to go to the United States to fight for custody of her first-born daughter, saving her from being lost within the American foster care system.

Murray has done it all. So when her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, she did not hesitate. She knew she was more than capable of taking over his cleaning company, and she knew she could make that company more profitable than he ever imagined.

That company is Prospect Cleaning Service, which Murray has grown into a multimillion dollar building maintenance and janitorial service company, serving New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In August, Prospect Cleaning Service made the prestigious Inc 5000 list of fastest-growing American companies that have demonstrated supreme innovation and remarkable growth. To make the list is an incredible achievement, but this year's 5000 is extra special, coming out of tumultuous years racked by the pandemic. The list ranks Prospect Cleaning Service at number 1,001, and puts the company among the top 50 within the category of business products and services. "It's my biggest achievement," Murray says.

Ingrid Murray and husband Courtney

The secret to her success is the only plain thing about her. It's hard work, the aforementioned impatience, of course, and the motivation to provide for and support her family. Whether it's for her brother, her husband, or her children, she puts her all in and admittedly is not the best at balance.

"Taking care of my family is how I avoid burnout," she states, matter-of-factly.

For Murray, the definition of family expands past her four walls. She spearheads numerous outreach programmes in both the United States and Jamaica. She hosts annual school drives to supply youth with stationery needed for education as well as her Week of Kindness in October, which focuses on home renovations in Naggo Head, St Catherine, and the surrounding area. In December, Murray also hosts a seniors treat, which provides the elderly with five-course dinners and months of grocery supplies.

While the work is difficult, Murray says she loves every minute of it. She starts her day at 3:00 am with prayer and worship. "I talk to God earnestly, thanking Him for his blessing," she explains.

She might sneak in some television, but she always makes time for her husband. "We're always laughing," she gushes. "From the moment we wake up, we're laughing."

The drive to work is more prayer time. In the office she catches up with her staff, eating breakfast together. "We have a kitchenette… it's important for my team to feel comfortable, to feel like they're home."

Then she's locked in, scheduling meetings and prioritising contacts. "I'm so locked in, I don't even get up to use the bathroom," she laughs.

After work, she picks up her son from school and goes home to cook for her husband. The two have an enviable relationship, built on trust, love, and security.

Murray has great pride not only for her work, but for her entire field. When she goes into any space, she notes the cleanliness. She recounts visiting the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Chicago. "It's grand, but the first thing you notice is how clean it is. I thought to myself… that's one of us; it's a cleaning person who does this, making sure the place is inviting and bringing out the beauty."

For Murray, nothing beats the satisfaction of her clients and knowing her team did that.

Her advice for women entrepreneurs starts with never giving up on your dream. "It might not be the right time for you, but your moment will come," Murray reasons. She goes on to say: "It used to be a bigger struggle for women in business than it is now. But we have a voice; we can make ourselves heard now."

She urges young women to believe in their abilities and chase their passions. "It's easier to do something that you love. It's easy to procrastinate when you're not passionate."

Of course, Murray also suggests being reasonably impatient, not being afraid to start, and seizing opportunities when they come. She knows first hand that all of that works wonders along the road to success.

NICANOR GORDON

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