Graham was educated and began his working life as a school teacher in Australia but moved to the UK in 1972 where he has enjoyed a distinguished academic career. After a brief spell at Leeds Polytechnic he worked at what was then University College, Cardiff and The University of Birmingham before moving to Oxford Brookes University in 1997. During that time he carried out research and published extensively on a wide range of topics in the fields of Educational Psychology and Special Educational Needs but early in his career became involved in university management culminating in appointments as Vice Chancellor at Oxford Brookes from 1997 to 2007 and as Interim Vice Chancellor at the University of Cumbria from 2010-11 and at Glyndŵr University in North Wales from 2015-16.
Graham has held appointments at Board level in both the private and not for profit sectors. These have included being Chair of the Board and President of the Oxford Playhouse, Chair of the Oxfordshire Community Partnership and a member of the Boards of the Oxfordshire Public Service Board and the Oxfordshire Economic Partnership. Graham was formerly a member of the Board of the University of the West of England and is currently a member of the Council of Bangor University. He is also currently Chair of the Board of Experience Oxfordshire.
Graham was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 2013-14 and is a Deputy Lieutenant of the County.