Interview with Anna Murphy, Director at Four Wings Equipment Corp in Singapore

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Cranesy: How come you have been interested to Crane Industry?
Anna Murphy: One day, about 20 years ago, in the middle of a wonderful lunch with friends in Scotland, I teased my husband that if he could sell cranes, then I could do it standing on my head. The lady I was talking to announced it to the whole room. I knew nothing about cranes – I was and am a writer and editor, more used to newspapers and magazines. The only cranes I knew were the flying kind. So there I was, painted into a corner. My famously ill-fated words proved predictive when my husband’s employer sold the company and I found myself helping him in our new crane business. I nearly died. I did not choose the crane sector, my husband chose me. That and my big mouth (Anna’s smiling).

C.: How many years have you been in the industry?
A.M.: We have been in business since 2001. My husband was for many decades the Manitowoc man in Asia-Pacific and mainly China. He has seen more of China than Genghis, and was always full of exciting traveller’s tales. It was extremely difficult to start up in the middle of a recession, especially to go it alone after being associated with a brand like Manitowoc.

C.: What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
A.M.: Of course, I thought the crane business was pretty exciting, and more so because my husband would never take me anywhere. You won’t survive, he kept telling me, and after just one trip for a crane loading, spending five days at a port, covered in filth and crawling over the machines with stickers in hand – yes, he is right, it is hard and dirty and you have to have mastery over your bladder in places where no allowances are made for women.

C.: Are there many female entrepreneurs in the crane sector in your country?
A.M.: I know a few women like me, who work alongside their husbands in other countries. I do not know any female entrepreneurs in the crane sector in Singapore.

C.: What’s your view of the crane market today?
A.M.: Competition is stiff. We keep coming across the same people in the business every day, and everyone knows everyone else in the business. I want to say it’s a small world but there are so many of us!

C.: How much time do you spend in the office?
A.M.: We had several offices in the past 15 years until we accepted that all our work could be done on our laptops and moved our office to our home two years ago. I estimate we average four to five hours a day in the office researching and emailing.

C.: What’s the toughest decision you have ever had to make in your entire career?
A.M.: The decision to work full time in the crane business, instead of publishing.

C.: Your rules for doing business?
A.M.: Patience is an absolute requisite. You also have to be quite thick-skinned, ask the tricky questions without being offensive, but I have to say that crane people are tres polite! Even when they don’t realise I am a woman (Dear Mr Anna), they can be really nice and helpful, and I have made a few funny friends whom I have not even met in real life – maybe they will unfriend me now they know I am a woman?

C.: Aside from work, how do you like to spend your free time, do you have any hobbies?
A.M.: Books, movies and music in equal measures.

C.: Favourite motto/quote?
A.M.: Cry me a river. Build a bridge. Get over it. Alas, not my words.

Short questions

C.: Individual or team work?
A.M.: TEAM.

C.: Classic or casual style to wear in the office?
A.M.: CASUAL.

C.: The opera or classical ballet?
A.M.: OPERA.

C.: Fvourite movie?
A.M.: THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE.

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