Before joining Southampton Solent University as Vice-Chancellor, Graham worked as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). He joined UCLan's Senior Management Team in 2003 and held posts as Dean of Academic Development and Director for Cumbria.
In 2007/08 Graham was seconded to work as the national skills research director for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority at Sellafield Limited. In March 2008 he took up the position of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Skills and Employer Engagement), and was appointed as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) from 1 January 2010 with overall responsibility for UCLan's academic and research activity.
Graham also worked closely with partner institutions, particularly in Hong Kong, China and the Middle East, and he received an Outstanding Foreign Expert Award from Hebei Province, China. During 2014 he was also appointed as Honorary Professor at Hebei University in Baoding, and in 2015 was appointed as a Visiting Professor by the National Academy for Education Administration, Beijing.