Graham Carroll - BSc (Hons) IT Management for Business

Graham Carroll
A 41-year-old father from Brechin graduates from Robert Gordon University within the first cohort of a new graduate apprenticeship programme, completing his degree during a pandemic after adding a new-born to his family in his first year of studies.

Graham Carroll crossed the stage at the Music Hall in Aberdeen on Wednesday 8 December to accept his first-class honours degree in IT Management for Business, leaving as a graduate of the Scottish University of the Year. 

“It’s been tough coming to terms with actually completing the course,” said Graham. “Especially with the first-class award that I’ve achieved. 

“When starting the course, my eldest son was only three and was going to sleep at an acceptable time—allowing for plenty of study time. I will admit to asking myself, how hard can it be? He’s now seven, and my daughter—born during my first year of studies—is four. For my final-project year, personal study time was at an absolute premium!” 

Graham learned about the opportunity to earn a degree qualification through his work at Aberdeen Airport, in partnership with RGU under its Graduate Apprenticeship scheme. 

Graduate Apprenticeships are RGU’s industry-driven approach for students to be able to work full-time for a partner employer while studying towards their degree—integrating student learning with suitable workplace projects as a collaborative effort between university and employer, while also satisfying the career ambitions of the student. 

Through this combination of workplace learning and programme of education, Graham gained graduate-level expertise to develop and implement high-level business strategy relating to internal and external drivers in the IT sector. This included user-centred design and usability considerations, state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, and big data analytics techniques. 

“I applied at a time when the GA courses had only just started,” said Graham. “Personally, I quite fancied the programming one but, given my role and aspirations at the airport, IT management was perfect! 

“The GA approach of being mostly online worked great for me, but the standout moments were the on-campus days for the first two years. We got to be around our class colleagues and the rest of the RGU populace. We got to properly experience being students.” 

Graham had previously completed an HND in Computing & Electronics before gaining employment at Aberdeen College. There, he worked his way up to IT management across the course of 13 years before continuing his career at Aberdeen Airport, where he has been for seven. 

“I had been enquiring about management training to better myself and it was time for me to try and step up,” said Graham. “The GA programme was an ideal opportunity to get back into education while maintaining my full-time job at the airport—using the live working experience to better my learning. 

“It’s the perfect programme, both for those at the start of their career looking to learn on the job and for those long-term employees—like myself—who always hunger to better themselves.” 

Like all recent graduates, Graham showed great resilience in completing his studies during a global pandemic, which forced students across the nation to adapt, cope, and grow from new and unexpected challenges. 

“I cannot fully express how challenging it was,” adds Graham. "Still, we made it through as we had committed to finishing—and I don’t like to quit! I genuinely applaud all who were in full-time study and continued to excel.  

“For many of us on the GA course, it became a primary talking point during class, and how strong of an effect the pandemic has on business strategy and finances.” 

Graham will continue his work at Aberdeen Airport, keeping it stable through the pandemic having accepted a new role prior to graduating as IT Operations Manager. 

He adds: “Ultimately, it has been an excellent experience working with RGU. With my degree, I feel I have set a new bar for myself. I have the right educational experience and a level of confidence in myself that I did not have before.”

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