Phil Steele

Graduated BA (Hons) History - 2010

Current Profession Process Demand & Planning Lead, Transformation Senior Manager

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“My course has also given me an understanding of different cultures and politics, especially people’s different interpretations of the past – that’s something which is vital in business.”

Ask Phil Steele how his history degree has benefited his senior management role in the retail industry and he’s explicit. It’s all about the broader skills he’s learned – from communication and research, to an understanding of how the past influences our future.

Phil initially started a business degree at a big city university aged 18, but left after discovering the impersonal and regimented institution didn’t suit him. When he decided to return to higher education five years later, he says Edge Hill gave him a totally different experience.

“The thing that drew me to Edge Hill was that it was a totally different environment,” he says. “It was so much easier to learn in a place with such a community focus, which didn’t make you feel like you were still at school. You felt trusted, there was no officialdom, and the added bonus was that there has been so much investment in the campus.”

Since his first foray into higher education, Phil had worked in shops and bars, then got a job with Shop Direct, the online retailer which includes Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com. In the week he was accepted by Edge Hill University, he was offered a promotion to managerial level.

Phil adds: “I did wonder whether I could fit it all in, but I juggled my university course full time and my management job part time, working 30 hours a week. My company was very flexible, but so was the university. They had the support mechanisms in place to help me catch up if I had to miss a lecture and the open-door policy from the staff meant that I could ask for advice if I needed it.”

Since graduation in 2010, Phil has continued to work his way up Shop Direct’s career ladder and now holds a senior management position in the company’s head office. And he says it’s studying for a degree which has enabled him to progress.

“It’s given me research and organisational skills, as well as teaching me how to plan and carry out effective reporting,” he says. “Gaining a history degree also opens up routes into teaching or research. Personally the degree has made me even more passionate about the past which is evident in the books I read – my old school even asked me to volunteer as a leader on a school trip to Auschwitz and Berlin. This wouldn’t have been possible without the skills and knowledge I learned at Edge Hill

“My course has also given me an understanding of different cultures and politics, especially people’s different interpretations of the past – that’s something which is vital in business.”

For full course information on studying BA (Hons) History at Edge Hill click here.