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Chris Murphy President Of The Santa Cruz Warriors Credits Success To Organizational Culture

Chris Murphy | President | Santa Cruz Warriors

"I care about our staff as individuals, not as employees. When we bond together in that way, we are able to accomplish so much more."

Chris Murphy


Santa Cruz Warriors

× The interview with Chris Murphy was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Tell us about your role as the President of the Santa Cruz Warriors .

My duties as President of the Santa Cruz Warriors are to oversee all elements of business operations. While we are a professional basketball team, there are many facets of our business that drive our organization.

I collaborate daily with our team members across ticket sales, partnerships, marketing, finance, community relations, public relations, facilities, operations and merchandise. Contrary to what some think, I have very little to do with the basketball side of things.

Fortunately, we have a General Manager, Ryan Atkinson, who works to form the team and handles the aspects of the basketball side of our business. My collaboration with basketball is focused around budget, travel details, in market hospitality and residences, etc.

As the President, I am involved in a lot of our day to day meetings and conversations because we are a small organization and we all need to be working together in order to accomplish our goals.

Having 10 years of experience with Golden State before my role in Santa Cruz, I have a lot of experience across many verticals that allow me to help guide my team and their strategy.

My goal is to give my team the autonomy to craft a strategy and be a resource for them to move our business initiatives forward.

The other major aspect of my role is community involvement. I am the face of our business out in the community, and in a smaller market, community involvement is hugely important. Whether that is attending community functions, serving on non-profit Boards, meetings with clients, etc. – I am typically engaging in a community aspect at least once every day.

I love where we live in Santa Cruz and the support the community has provided to the Santa Cruz Warriors has been tremendous, so being active in the community is one of the best parts of my role.

What would you say is the best part about being the President of the Santa Cruz Warriors?

A My Team Members

In Santa Cruz, we have about 20 full-time roles on the business side. While we are part of the larger Golden State Warriors organization, we stand alone as our own business operation. I have some great relationships at GSW and many of that group are great resources and always willing to assist Santa Cruz in any way possible.

B The Santa Cruz Community

In Santa Cruz, the team members I work with are so collaborative, hard-working, intelligent and most importantly – great people. While we work hard, we have a lot of fun and laughs and keep each other smiling. My team is more like a family than a group of coworkers, and they are my favorite part of the role.

My other favorite part is the Santa Cruz Community. The people locally are so supportive of the Santa Cruz Warriors and appreciative of all that we do.

Game nights are electric because you travel around the arena and know so many people and the local following comes together to cheer on the Warriors. It’s a great place to live, work, and be engaged with the local community.

You’ve been with the Warriors organization for about 15 years now, how much has changed since you started with Golden State back in 2005?

Wow, that’s a great question! So much? Everything? While I have been with the Warriors for almost 15 years, the two different ownership groups are very different to the point where I feel like I have worked for two separate organizations.

Obviously on the court, so much has changed for the Warriors in those 15 years, as well as now in the NBA G League with continued momentum on the court.

From a business perspective, so much has changed as well. While the need to focus on ticket sales will always be a major focus, the technology we use and fans have access to is incredible now. Social media was barely alive when I started in 2005, and look at the impact it has on our world now?

Ticket resale marketplaces were scalpers back then, now there are major players in this space with 99%+ of transactions happening online in advance of the game.

The key is to always be evolving and engaging in new opportunities. We should always be exploring avenues for continuous improvement across all facets of our business.

In 2016-17 you won Team Executive of the Year, what do you think it is that makes you thrive in the sports industry?

That was a very high honor for me to receive, but the accomplishment was a testament to my team and all their hard work and effort. We accomplish nothing individually in Santa Cruz, and our group pushes hard together to accomplish our goals.

I place a HUGE emphasis on culture and building a team atmosphere within SCW.

Focusing on that is something I think has allowed me to thrive because I care about our staff as individuals, not as an employees. When we bond together in that way, we are able to accomplish so much more.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected the NBA and the basketball industry. How have you been, as President, affected by the sports hiatus?

As a basketball team, we typically have an offseason every year from April to October in the G League.

I view the current situation as an extended offseason, and we are working hard on planning for next season already. We cannot come out of this on the other side as the same organization, we need to have new ideas and aspects to move our business forward.

Everyone always has a list of projects that we never have time to get to. We need to capitalize on this time now to explore those ideas, complete those projects, and find new creative ways to thrive. We are also trying to be active in our community through virtual events and supporting a lot of local organizations by amplifying their message.

Stacey Leawood Stacey's Final Thoughts

Great leaders like Chris Murphy can always pinpoint what makes them an effective leader and for Chris it’s having a supportive and caring culture. Working as a team to accomplish their goals. The basketball industry being as competitive as it is, it’s very refreshing to hear the support and compassion that Chris has for his employees. Santa Cruz is very fortunate to have such strong leadership and I can’t wait to see what innovations him and his team implement post-pandemic!

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