Changing Perspectives - At 30 I found the courage to share my dyslexia

Chris Murphy
By Chris Murphy | 17 July 2023
Chris Murphy.

The MFA DE&I Council would like to see an industry where everyone can thrive, feel heard, supported, and safe to do their best work. Let’s meet the Changers who are sharing their own lived experiences to inspire us all to change for the better.

Hello, I’m Murph. I currently serve as the General Manager of The Hallway, Australia’s longest-running independent advertising agency.

Beyond my professional title, I carry with me a diverse background – I am a Half-British, Half-Filipino Expat and the eldest sibling among my family, raised in the Middle East, educated in the UK and now living in Australia.

Those who know me personally are aware of my deep passion for sports, particularly rugby, where I had the privilege of representing my cultural heritage on the international stage until just last year. These aspects of my identity are truly meaningful to me.

More recently, however, I’ve discovered a newfound sense of pride in embracing my learning disability – dyslexia.

At the age of 15, I received a diagnosis that would profoundly shape my life. A compassionate psychologist presented me with a pivotal choice: “You have two options – either own it or let it own you.”

This moment marked the beginning of a transformative journey for me, one that required personal responsibility and a determination to redefine my own narrative.

Throughout my journey, I have been fortunate to achieve some significant milestones. I had the honour of becoming Head Boy at my secondary school, obtaining two university degrees, and securing an exciting first job at a prestigious advertising agency in London – all before my 21st birthday.

With each accomplishment, my ambition grew, and opportunities seemed to multiply. I was fortunate enough to be poached by a leading Australian agency while living in London, where I contributed to several highly acclaimed campaigns. In recognition of my work, I was nominated for multiple esteemed 30 Under 30 accolades, and had the privilege of being selected as one of the youngest participants ever to join the prestigious Marketing Academy at the age of 30.

Strength vs weakness: how we define learning disabilities matters
It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I found the courage to openly discuss my dyslexia in professional settings. I had feared that it might compromise my reputation, especially as I progressed into management roles, working closely with influential executives both on the client and agency sides.

Looking back, I recall the challenges I faced growing up – struggling to write my own name until the age of five, grappling with telling time until I was twelve, and, truth be told, not having my times tables committed to memory even at thirty-two (Sorry, Miss Robson!). However, once I finally revealed my dyslexia, I experienced an unexpected transformation. Sharing my truth alleviated an immense burden, not only for myself but also for those around me.

Today, I carry my dyslexia as a source of pride, viewing it as a unique advantage. After all, aren’t we constantly encouraged to think “outside the box”? Well, who better to embody that mindset than someone inherently wired to do so?

There’s still an enduring stigma surrounding learning disabilities, particularly within the corporate world. However, there is a glimmer of hope on a broader scale. has redefined dyslexic thinkers as having ‘strengths in creative, problem-solving and communication skills’.

In light of this, the creative industry becomes an ideal space for dyslexic people, where disruptive ideas are not only encouraged but celebrated.

Tips and advice
I urge employers and fellow dyslexic individuals to challenge their preconceived notions about learning disabilities. Those of us with unique perspectives offer a fundamentally different way of viewing the world. What we truly need is for employers to believe in our potential and for us to foster self-belief.

To my fellow dyslexic compadres, I share a heartfelt message: “Embrace the game of belief. Believe in yourself, even when doubt may linger, don’t give up. Act as if you believe, as it will empower you.”

This philosophy has propelled me forward, against all odds.

In an industry that thrives on embracing diversity and inclusivity, my story stands as a humble testament to the power of embracing our differences. Let us draw inspiration from one another’s journeys and forge a future where everyone can thrive, create, and succeed together.

Chris Murphy is General Manager of The Hallway

To broaden your understanding of DE&I, complete the SBS Core Inclusion course – Australia’s leading online DE&I training course – available for free to MFA member employees. Access ends December 2023.


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