Patricia Murray

From the runway of Miss America to the runways of Baghdad


Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Patricia Murray has been speaking to audiences of all ages for more than 25 years about how the most ordinary ideas can be extraordinary successes. She has often been told how “lucky” she has been in her life to have achieved so much. But once you listen to her speak, you will learn that the secret to her success is simply turning life’s normal rejections and failures to her advantage and seizing opportunities when they appear.

Patricia is an expert on leadership in high-stress and dynamic situations, breaking the glass ceiling and developing positive, harmonious relationships between men and women in the workplace, and finding a way to win the race of life when the world is convinced you are the underdog.

An engineer by trade, Patricia used her scholarship earned as Miss California 1992 to pursue a career in commercial aviation. She was recruited by the California Air National Guard and was awarded the top honor of the Commander’s Trophy at military pilot training graduation. She was inducted into the prestigious Order of Daedalians, a WWI flying organization, where she is a Director. She is also a Director on the Disabled Veterans Charities board, which awards hundreds of thousands of dollars to disabled veterans in need annually.

Patricia retired after a 21-year military career as a Lieutenant Colonel and Instructor Pilot for the California Air National Guard in the 115th Airlift Squadron. She flew six tours of duty in the Middle East and has been awarded five flying Air Medals. She was named the 2010 California Air National Guard Field Grade Officer of the Year and has earned her Master’s of Science in Military Science and Operational Art. Patricia is the CEO of the Miss California Organization, a preliminary to the Miss America competition. She has flown 20 years as a pilot and now captain for American Airlines and resides with her husband Andrew and three daughters in Redondo Beach, California.

Breaking the glass ceiling
Workplace relationships



Having done five tours of duty in the Middle East, I have seen our involvement in the conflict from the front door of Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and even Iran. I’ve learned firsthand what the news outlets are often unwilling to report; America is making a difference but not in the way you would think. Oftentimes it is the unintended consequences of any given situation that make or break the success or failure. Planning is key. Many of the same principles used on the battlefield can be used for success in leadership, business and in life. I speak about a side of America people may never have seen before and about how the lessons I have learned in war apply to them. This presentation is packed full of video, photos and firsthand accounts that will bring a new dimension to your event.


Throughout my life, I was always seen as a little “different,” but ultimately managed to come out on top in everything I have set out to achieve. Little did I know at the beginning, my desire to march only to the beat of my own drum would be one of the keys to my success. The title of this talk was advice given to me on the stage at the Miss America Pageant and it is advice that directs me to this day. This talk is designed to help any group find the strength and determination to succeed on their own terms, turning any failure into opportunity, and to stop looking from side to side along the way. Powerful examples from my life experiences demonstrate how circumstances play only a small role in our potential. It’s the discipline to stay focused on goals and keep taking action while being true to yourself that ultimately brings the biggest and most satisfying wins. You want your people to have confidence, make decisions with determination and lead from the front? Then this topic will have them moving forward with purpose!


I live and work in a male-dominated world, and out of necessity have become an expert on breaking through the glass ceiling without letting shards of falling glass damage the camaraderie of the workplace. I have been successful in developing positive, harmonious relationships with the men I work and fly with every day. However, I am not a doormat, a woman trying to be a man or regarded as “one of the guys.” I don’t allow cussing in my aircraft. I regularly stand up for my rights, women’s rights and the rights of others, and yet continue to win awards and promotions without being alienated or becoming negatively branded. Today, for many powerful women, that’s not the case. With my unique style of working within the flow instead of fighting against it, I share tools that can be used by both men and women to help them succeed in working with members of the opposite sex—by explaining how women think differently, act differently, bond differently and have different loyalties. I help women use their unique perspectives and point of view to develop powerful partnerships with men that help propel them forward. And, I help men work more productively and harmoniously with the women on their teams, both in their private lives and in the workforce.


The point of this exercise is to determine who we are. The first step in branding ourselves is knowing ourselves. Sun Tzu said, “Knowing the other and not knowing oneself, in every battle — certain defeat.” Often our perception of ourselves and the perception the world has of us are two completely different viewpoints. The closer these two are, the more successful we will become. Sometimes we simply do not know who we are and sometimes we do not like who we are, so we put on a mask for the world. Unfortunately, most people want you to show up and when you don’t, true opportunities are missed. This 90-minute workshop will use my varied, challenging and combat experience to aid you in developing your own unique brand, while teaching you to market it with success. Learn to be yourself—in this one area EVERYONE is an expert—you have been yourself your whole life. Comfort in your own skin will allow you to find success in ways you had never thought possible.