David Graham Mills
Current Employer/Organisation Name
What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?
Following the completion of my degree at Exeter, I gained an MSc at Surrey University. In February 1982 I joined Burroughs Machines as an application consultant to provide support for their accountancy systems. I was employed as a consultant / project manager for the next 37 years for a number of software companies. I retired from the Sage Group in January 2019.
Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?
When l graduated from Surrey University, computing was in its infancy, but developing rapidly both in hardware performance and software functionality. I had a very enjoyable career as a consultant, with every year bringing technological advances and new software features. A consultant is in regular contact with customers, providing on-site consultancy, training and support during testing and Go-live. This work required extensive travel throughout the UK and Ireland, but also to Europe, North America, southern Africa, Asia and New Zealand. All aspects of this role were very enjoyable, and I gained significant experience and knowledge of operations and business requirements across a wide variety of industry sectors and benefited from experiencing different cultures. This knowledge and experience enabled me to progress into Project management for the final 10 years of my career. Throughout my career I achieved many successful implementations which is enormously satisfying personally with the customers achieving many benefits.
Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?
I represented Exeter at football for 3 seasons.
What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?
The combination of Physics with Geology and the emphasis on practicals.
What did you enjoy most about studying here?
The opportunity to enjoy the student life in all aspects and to take advantage of the sporting and cultural facilities at Exeter. There were also many visits to Dartmoor and the coast. I have also been fortunate to have made a few “friends for life”.
Why did you choose to study at Exeter?
Exeter provided a degree in Physics with Geophysics. The fact that Exeter was a campus university and the excellent location of Exeter with the proximity of Dartmoor and the coast.
What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?
To extend your knowledge by achieving the qualifications which are relevant to the sector. For example, I was providing support to an Accounting and Distribution / Warehousing software application, so I studied for diplomas in Accounting & Finance and Distribution. This additional knowledge was very useful in assisting with the delivery of support and consultancy to the customers. Similarly the Prince 2 qualification was required for the role of Project Manager.
What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?
Be prepared to study for additional qualifications. To accept new challenges and to be prepared to travel both within the UK and to different countries.
What are your plans for the future?
To enjoy my retirement, which hopefully will mean the opportunity to travel to other countries and to spend more time with my children and grandchildren.