FEATURED EMPLOYEE: Bob Murdock, P.E.: Linguist, light on his feet, global water lead
For someone who self-identifies as an extremely methodical and planned individual, V3’s global water lead, Bob Murdock, has a few tricks up his sleeves. While his professional title hints at an interesting work life with an international flair, his personal life is equally culturally fluent.
Bob became interested in international work as a young professional. Following graduation from the University of Minnesota – first, with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and, later, a master’s degree in civil engineering—he joined the Peace Corps in search of opportunities to give back.
Bob was particularly interested in improving water and sanitation conditions in developing countries. Thanks to his newly-minted degree, and armed with a few college-level Spanish courses, Bob soon found himself on a plane to Honduras.
“I’ve always wanted to get involved in overseas development work because I feel accomplished when I’m using my skills for some greater good,” said Bob. “However, I was surprised to learn that I carried some cultural baggage with me that took a good year to overcome.”
And then, as fate would have it …
“I met my wife on what they call a ‘chicken bus’ in Honduras,” chuckled Bob. “In developing countries, people acquire old school buses, rehab them, and use them for public transportation. Every driver is proud of their bus, will decorate it to the hilt, and play music – it’s quite a surreal experience.”
Bob and Kathia dated for a year before getting married just as his time with the Peace Corps was ending. The couple stayed in Honduras for six more years, soaking up the lifestyle and navigating life as newlyweds, before moving back to the states to pursue career ambitions.
“Today, I speak Spanish fluently and am professionally proficient in French,” said Bob. “I actually decided to start learning French nearly 20 years ago, taking a few classes here and there. Over the past five years I started to hit it full-steam by listening to hours of French podcasts in the car. Once I started working at V3 I also started speaking with a tutor. Happily, our work in Haiti gives me the opportunity to speak French more regularly.”
Always up for a good challenge, Bob has dedicated himself to more than lingual pursuits.
“I learned to cook about seven years ago,” said Bob. “Before that I would describe my cooking as ‘bachelor’ style, with no real understanding of flavor and spices. Now I really enjoy it. I think cooking appeals to my planning nature: go to market with a list. I can be creative with dishes and have learned that I especially love making soups.”
“Thanks to my Latina wife I also enjoy dancing salsa, merengue and cumbia. I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other when we first met. Now, after 24 years of marriage, I can hold my own on the dance floor.”
If you’re looking for a word of encouragement to tackle a new hobby, or pursue a passion, look no further than the richly accomplished and delightfully surprising Bob Murdock.