Development And Alumni Relations Office


29 November 2018

Washington DC, home to multiple government agencies and almost as many not-for-profit organisations, is also where you can find a thriving business set up by passionate app developer and Queen’s 2004 MEng graduate, Paul Murphy.

Born and raised in Ballina in County Mayo, Paul moved to Enniskillen when he was 15, where he was a pupil of St Michael's grammar school. He earned a scholarship to attend Queen's but worked at Nortel Networks for a year prior to starting out on his Electrical & Electronic Engineering degree course.

As a student he also spent two summers and his ‘year out’ in telecommunications firm Nortel Networks, setting up and maintaining departmental intranet sites, and assisting in the design of test equipment.

He was awarded the BIC Systems Prize for the best project in the field of computer engineering before graduating with a First Class Master’s degree.

Speaking about his time at University to the eGraduate ahead of the December issue, Paul said: “I played soccer for Queen’s and made some great friends playing footie every weekend and at Inter-University tournaments.

“I have a lot of great memories of the Students’ Union, from the afternoon pub quiz at the Bunatee, to gigs in Mandela Hall. The scholarship and opportunity at Nortel really set me up for success, and it's thanks to the Queen’s friends here (in the US) that I came out so strongly at the other end.

Paul met his future wife who was doing cross-community work in Belfast while he was at University. “She decided to take a souvenir home! I always wanted to travel, but wasn't quite sure where that would take me,” he added.

The couple moved to the United States in 2004 shortly after Paul graduated from Queen’s. Once he had received his Green Card in 2010 he founded 3Advance, an app development company that ‘turns great ideas into beautiful, simple mobile and desktop apps’.

Now a US Citizen, Paul has successfully led software development projects with NPR, Special Olympics and a host of DC start-ups.

“I never thought much about owning a business, but I watched and learned from my boss's mistakes, and at some point realised that I could do better,” said Paul.

“My advice to others is to be confident in yourself but not arrogant – try to learn from everyone you meet and don't be afraid to ask for help from those you see ahead of you.”

Headquartered in Washington DC, Paul now employs a team of 10 professional developers at 3Advance, creating mobile apps and data-management and web applications and sports platforms for start-ups, not-for-profit organisations and other businesses.  

“DC is a great place to live. I love using Bikeshare to cycle across the city to a meeting, and ride by the back of the White House, just two blocks away. There's always something happening and the museums are amazing – and free. The new DC United stadium with Wayne Rooney arriving is the most exciting recent development – finally feels like we have some proper football to enjoy!”

Paul has a message for young Queen’s graduates who might be thinking of setting up their own business or even heading across the Atlantic to work.

“Anyone thinking of moving to the US or further afield should know that it's going to be tough at times – missing family, friends and familiarity. That said, if you're hard-working, the US is a great place to be,” he said. “Opportunities are around every corner, and there is an environment where you're encouraged to take a chance, and so many smart people seem eager to help.”  

A true entrepreneur, Paul has spotted and exploited many business opportunities throughoput his career, while always remaining focused on delivering results. Whether by building innovative enterprise software and craft websites for clients, (Virtual Atlantic, Inc.), or launching a mobile gaming company specialising in ‘real time’ fantasy sports contests (Fanamana), Paul remains at the cutting edge of what is a hugely cramped space in the IT world. 

3Advance is regarded as a friendly, tight-knit team of passionate techies who take pride in their apps being ‘truly useful and refreshingly useable’. That creative passion undoubtedly comes from the County Mayo man who has almost twenty five years’ experience and is regarded as someone who listens to client design needs, who is a dynamic app-developer and importantly, who delivers results on time and on budget.

He's also someone who places huge importance on family and on personal preference of location and work schedule, something else, perhaps, which might account for his success. By allowing each employee to create the environment that most suits them, Paul enables them to thrive. Such empowerment nurtures creativity, a love for the work of the company and, inevitably, successful outcomes for both Paul and 3Advance clients.

Success hasn’t gone to his head though. Paul remains grounded and is keen to acknowledge the part that his alma mater has played – and continues to play – in his career.

“Attending Queen's was a privilege, and it has continued to pay dividends. My business partner Darren Gibney is a Queen’s alum as well, and hiring him twelve years ago was one of the best business decisions I've ever made.

“We're hoping to open a 3Advance office back in Belfast soon, and hopefully that means even more Queen’s talent to cultivate.”

The future certainly looks very promising for this high calibre, dynamic team player and for all those that his company engages with.

For more on Queen’s graduate activities in the Washington DC area contact the University’s Alumni Relations Manager, Natasha Sharma on +44 (0)28 9097 3135.

General enquiries about this news story to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Queen's Development and Alumni Relations Office – tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.


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