Graham Curtis

Staff Spotlight: Graham Curtis

June 22, 2022 11:23 am

Our next staff spotlight episode focuses on the Director of Roffey Park Academy, Graham Curtis.

Graham was born in Sunderland and spent his childhood in the Northeast of England. He told us how he grew up on a council estate and, after he left school, found work rather than continuing his education. After trying out a few different jobs, Graham decided it was time to continue his studies and at 18 completed his A levels.

Being from an area so passionate about their football, it was only right that Graham found himself supporting Sunderland FC. As many a football fan would know, following Sunderland FC has not been an easy ride, but Graham has stuck with them. He said, “we have just been promoted to the championship, so it might be the start of better times for us. It is not an easy club to be a supporter of but that is football, the highs and lows make it worthwhile.”

Graham’s first job after graduating from college saw him become an Immigration Officer at Heathrow Airport. He began on the operational side of affairs before working his way up to become Senior Manager in the Immigration Department of the Home Office It was then when the apartheid in South Africa started to disintegrate and the last white President of South Africa came to the UK. Graham explained, “F. W. de Klerk has got my immigration officer stamp in his passport, or he did 30 years ago. That was interesting knowing I witnessed an important part of history.”

Graham met his wife when he was 19. They have been married for 32 years, having a son and a daughter along the way. Graham told us, “we met when she was a nurse, and I was unemployed. She managed to put up with me long enough to land a job and then the rest is history.”

Graham remained in the Home Office until he was 38 when his career changed forever. Graham explained that, as a senior manager, he was looking to discover more about leadership, management and organisational development. As a result, Graham managed to persuade his organisation to fund his participation on the Roffey Park MSc in People and Organisational Development. After graduating, Graham became the Head of Organisational Development within the UK Border Agency.

Between then and now, Graham has held a number of positions in the field of organisational development as well as some time as an independent consultant. It was whilst Graham was studying at Roffey Park Institute that he found a great interest in complexity theory and what that might mean for how we understand change in organisations.

In 2018, Graham graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with a Doctorate of Management. This allowed Graham to look for opportunities that enabled him to use his understanding of complexity theory to support organisations in change. As a result, in 2020 Graham reached out to Roffey Park Institute and became an associate helping out with the MSc programme.

An opportunity to join the team opened and Graham soon became the MSc programme director. It was not long until Graham then became the Director of the Roffey Park Academy. He told us, “it is a huge privilege for me to be the Director of the Academy considering the impact that the MSc had on my own career.”

Looking to the future Graham is excited to launch the new Postgraduate programmes this autumn as well as attend the graduation of MSc students as programme director. He said, “I have done a full circle. Reading out the names of the successful graduands of our current MSc cohort is an enormous privilege for me.”

Outside of work, Graham looks forward to travelling Route 66 in the U.S. with his son to celebrate his 21st Birthday. Graham explained, “After we watched the movie Cars, I promised my son that when he turned 21, we would drive across Route 66. It will be fascinating, a real adventure”. Furthermore, Graham told us that he and his wife have big travel plans for the future now that their children have grown up.

Graham’s journey with Roffey Park started in 2007 and he is now an integral part of the team. His story is heart-warming and encapsulates all that Roffey Park is about – people development. With Graham’s approachable and kind nature it is easy to see why he became so devoted to people and organisational development.

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