He has a track record of hiring strong people and being a hands-on manager, meeting directly with employees of all levels, no matter how junior, former colleagues say.
Paul Hitchin worked with Murphy for about eight years in various roles at GE. He was the global head of financial planning and analysis in GE Healthcare life sciences when it was combining the old life sciences and medical diagnostics in 2014. Murphy oversaw the cost cutting and restructuring, which included layoffs.
"We took out a lot of heads during that period," said Hitchin, who left GE late last year for another job. He said Murphy was pretty "open and honest" with employees in the each of the divisions and would regularly hold town halls to keep them updated.
"I look back at that and think wow, as an individual how did he do that and how did he maintain the engagement levels during a period of such change where people were losing jobs and restructuring?" Hitchin said.
For his part, Murphy says he has few regrets.
"Naturally, I've missed out some acquisitions for a variety of reasons that I would like to have won, but that's business," he said.
"There have been some deals that caused problems in the business, but I think having a clear strategy helps when it comes to integration and how one runs the businesses being integrated," Murphy continued.
He said deals like GE's 2012 acquisition of biomanufacturing service Xcellerex and 2014 purchase of cell culture business HyClone helped to create a great side gene therapy business called life sciences. The life sciences division is working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to study the use of the controversial CRISPR gene editing system to treat disease.
Unshackled from GE, and now with his own balance sheet, Murphy will be free to pursue more deals. He was reluctant to say what he's thinking of pursuing after the spinoff. However, he did share his vision for GE Healthcare.
"I want to change the course of disease treatment through integrated diagnostics and precision therapy and our precision health strategy has the power to improve outcomes," Murphy said. "I love our commitment to new areas like cell and gene therapy, the next frontier of medicine."
"My only goal is to be able to look back on my career in 10 or 15 years and think that I made a difference," he said.
— CNBC's Christina Farr and John W. Schoen contributed to this report.
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