Jim Murren attended Roger Ludlowe High School in Fairfield, Conn., where he played football and baseball and was a member of the National Honor Society. Murren received his undergraduate degree at Trinity College, where he studied art history and urban studies and attended Caesari Barbieri Center in Rome, Italy. He joined the Wall Street firm of Cyrus J. Lawrence as a securities analyst, and earned the Chartered Financial Analyst certification in 1991. He was elected a member of the firm's Board of Directors, becoming the youngest member ever of the company's board. During his career on Wall Street he brought about a pivotal recapitalization of MGM Grand, Inc. in 1996, and served as a Managing Director and the Director of U.S. equity research for Deutsche Bank.
In 1998, he moved to the corporate sector, joining MGM as CFO and member of its Board of Directors. In 1999, he became President, and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2007; he became Chairman and CEO in December 2008, his 10th year at the company. Under his tenure, the company embarked upon an extremely successful decade of growth. Murren was the architect of $15 billion of acquisitions including Primadonna Resort Casino in 1998, Mirage Resorts in 2000, and Mandalay Resort Group in 2005—acquisitions that helped transform MGM into the world's largest gaming company. He was repeatedly honored as the gaming and lodging industry’s top CFO by Institutional Investor magazine. 
In 2008-09, Murren led an extensive reorganization of the company, resulting in over $500 million of annual savings; this, together with a $3.8 billion financing effort, kept the company from failure during the early days of the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009. John Mack, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley said that "Jim’s background and experience with financial markets, management and operations has enabled him to provide exceptional leadership to MGM during an unprecedented period of turbulence in the economy and capital markets." 
During Murren's tenure, MGM joined with Dubai World in the development of the Las Vegas Strip's CityCenter. When CityCenter opened in December 2009, it represented the largest single private development and the largest green project ever undertaken in the nation’s history and America’s number one generator of new jobs during the Great Recession. Senator Harry Reid said, "The Las Vegas community may never be able to express its appreciation adequately for all that Jim has done, but his hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. ... He is a leader of his generation in job creation, green investment and philanthropy." Somer Hollingsworth, President and CEO of the Nevada Development Authority, called CityCenter "the most exciting and impactful project to open for the foreseeable future.” Under Murren’s leadership, MGM broke ground on May 1, 2014, on another major project in Las Vegas: a privately financed, state-of-the-art, 20,000-seat arena that it is developing with sports and entertainment company AEG. 
Murren is chair of the American Gaming Association Board of Directors, the national trade association for the commercial gaming industry, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Brookings Institution. In 2013, he was named Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Corporate Responsibility Officers Association, a professional society for corporate responsibility practitioners. He was named by President Obama to serve on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council.
He was recognized as Executive of the Year by Casino Journal in 2013.
During 2011, according to Forbes, Murren's total remuneration from MGM was $9.9 million, including $2 million in salary. 
MGM Resorts International is a Paradise, Nevada based gaming, hospitality and entertainment company. It generated about $9.8 billion in 2013. It owns and operates 15 properties in Nevada, Mississippi, and Michigan, and has 50% investments in four other properties in Nevada, Illinois and Macau, China.
The company began operations in 1987 as MGM Grand, Inc., and became MGM Mirage in 2000, after acquiring Mirage Resorts. In the mid-2000s, growth of its non-gaming (lodging, food, retail) revenue began to outpace gaming receipts and demand for high-rise condominiums was surging, with median property prices in Las Vegas twice the national average. The company shifted its business model from fully owning and operating resorts and casinos, to being more real estate focused—launching the massive CityCenter mixed-use project. However, the latter's development coincided with vast overbuilding on the Strip and a global financial crisis, causing large losses and writedowns in valuation.