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Where Are You Now?

Philip Ross

Philip Ross

BA Data Processing 1988

Philip Ross has enjoyed a varied, distinguished and illustrious career since graduating from Sunderland over a quarter of a century ago. 

Amongst his list of achievements are starting a trade association for freelancers, being appointed Mayor of his local town, winning a high court case to protect the liberties of those in his community and becoming Director of the Great Digital Company, a role he currently occupies now. 

Philip balances his work with the technology firm with freelance business analysis work and as a principal consultant on digital transformation projects within London.

He still remembers his humble beginnings, travelling from his home in Leamington Spa to Sunderland as a teenager. At the time, his knowledge of the area came largely from football, but he soon found his feet as a part of the tight knit community at the University.  

“Sunderland was a long way from Leamington Spa, where I grew up,” he explained. “I knew it was by the sea and that they’d beaten Leeds in the FA Cup Final in 1973.”

“It was a smaller University then, so I got to know a lot of people. The course was good, the lecturers were enthusiastic and really approachable. The most important thing was that they genuinely cared about us and took an interest in our futures.”  

Midway through his course, Philip was offered the chance to study at Paris’s École Polytechnique as part of the University’s exchange programme. The year he would spend there would change his life, setting him up with the skills for his future career.  

He added: “I went there when I was 19 on my own. With the help of the two institutions I found work, learned French and got the programming skills I needed to start my career.”  

“I’m now 51, and last month I won a freelance project on the basis I can speak French, a skill I gained all those years ago.”  

His fondest memories of his time at Sunderland are living at Doxford House and spending time in the Carlton, one of the University’s two Student Union bars. During his time here, he struck up a strong rapport with lecturer John Clifford, who proved to be a huge influence in the early days of Philip’s career. 

Speaking of John, Philip added: “He really helped to inspire me, not just on the course, but filled me with confidence to go forward and build a career. My degree itself was a foundation stone for me.”  

Having made a successful career for himself, Philip believes that being able to communicate, network and having enthusiasm are as important as technical skills in today’s competitive job market.  

He advised recent or current students to pursue opportunities to improve their ability in those areas, and also spoke of the importance of enthusiasm in finding success.“Enthusiasm and ambition will get you a long way, as will your appetite to risk,” he said.  

Now firmly established as an experienced analyst, Philip’s future targets are to secure even more work as a freelancer, whilst also keeping a close eye on a number of technological projects that are close to his heart.  

He concluded: “I’m hoping to continue to freelance but am also involved in a few digital fintech start-ups, and I’m very interested to see where they lead.”

Article written by Matthew Shevlin, University of Sunderland Journalism graduate.

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