Jason supports staff, both individuals and teams, across the university to enhance their knowledge and to improve their skills as our Organisational Development Manager. Having graduated from LJMU in 1998, Jason stayed on in a temporary role working in student welfare and has remained at LJMU as a member of staff ever since. This year he celebrates 25 years working at the university.
Jason’s journey to LJMU starts in his hometown of Ebbw Vale, a small town in South Wales. “It was very nice and pretty, but as a kid I found it was intensely boring, which was one of the reasons I wanted to go to university. I didn’t really have much idea back then of what university really involved, other than it was a chance to move to a big, exciting city. Nobody in my immediate family had been to university before, so all I really understood was that it was like school, but bigger.”
Jason chose to study business and completed his degree between 1994 and 1998, including a sandwich year that really unexpectedly shaped his future career.
“It was a four year sandwich course, and I spent my third year working in our students’ union (it was called LSU back then, Liverpool Students’ Union) as a Training and Education Assistant, and really it was that sandwich year that’s had the biggest influence on my life and career since, with a winding road leading up to the role I’m in now.”
Jason couldn’t have had a better student experience and recalls the halcyon days in Liverpool that would shape his life and career forever. The studying might not have always been at the forefront of his time at university, but Jason’s memories of his student days really demonstrate the variety of positive experiences that you can have as a student and the lasting impact they have.
“Frankly, I absolutely loved my time as student, the whole time was just a series of almost constant highlights. Having come from such a little town, growing up everybody knew everyone else, and whoever you ‘were’ at around 12-years-old, that was the box that you felt you had to stay in, so I really relished the opportunity that uni provided to be anonymous and reinvent myself.”
– Jason Boulter
“I lived in Parkside Halls of Residence in the first year and loved meeting such a diverse group of people – I liked that it was an old style traditional halls, so we weren’t in separate flats but instead were in corridors with communal kitchens, so everyone was able to fully mix with each other, and I made a group of friends in my corridor that I’m still friends with now. I worked in the SU bar (the Haigh) throughout my second and final year, this again allowed me to meet and mix with such a diverse group of people.
“Working my sandwich year in the SU allowed me to become almost like a pseudo-sabbatical officer, and I continued into my final year being on the Student Council, being a course rep and other similar things. I stood for election as Student Vice-President but sadly came second (not last, I have to stress!) but let’s not talk about that!
“To be completely honest, the actual course and studying part of my time at LJMU was quite far down the list of priorities at the time, but I did overall enjoy the experiences and had a good group on my course.
“I know that I’m biased, but I do think the mid-nineties was pretty much the perfect time to be a student – there was Britpop and all the fantastic music around at the time, and a great sense of optimism around everything. We were more or less the last generation to experience uni life without the internet and mobile phones being everywhere – it was a simpler and more innocent time. For example, I was able to just walk into Probe Records one afternoon and buy a ticket for Glastonbury without all the hassle that people have to go through now!”
After graduation, it wasn’t Jason’s plan to stay on working at LJMU, but as a regular temp at the ‘Job Shop’ (the equivalent of today’s Unitemps, which helps find jobs for students) he was put forward for a temporary role focused on student welfare that eventually became a permanent role.
“After around a year in Welfare, I moved to Careers for a few years, where I worked on the Business Bridge project – this was a joint project between us, University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University, and was a scheme to help students get paid work experience with local small businesses. I then moved into the Staff Development Centre as a trainer, and with a few changes in title, dept name and growing responsibilities, stayed there ever since, until just over a year ago when I was promoted to Organisational Development Manager.
“My team helps look after any and all development across the university, whether it’s individuals or teams, and whether it’s skills related or more about the general forward movement and improvement of the organisation as a whole. What I really value about my role is the opportunity it gives me to help make a difference to others. There are staff who have gained promotions that I have helped out with, teams that have overcome conflict and other issues that I have helped to resolve.”
Across his 25-year career, Jason has many highlights, including returning to part-time study and completing a master’s in advanced educational practice. But some recent standout moments include working with colleagues to bring together LJMU’s first combined teaching and professional services staff conference and the return of graduation ceremonies after the pandemic.
“I think my role in coordinating the Students at the Heart Conference over the last two years is a real highlight of my time – being in part responsible for an event that so many staff have embraced and enjoyed feels very special, and a “well done” handshake from the Vice-Chancellor at the end of the event has always been welcome. A special memory attached with this was being on the train into work a few weeks later and overhearing two staff sat nearby (who didn’t know who I was) talking very complementary about how much they had enjoyed the conference.
“I think another special memory was at the first graduation ceremony that was held after Covid, and the end moment when the Vice-Chancellor said “you are now graduates of LJMU”. Looking at all the graduands, knowing that some of them had had to wait three years for this moment and had been through such tough times to get there, really brought a tear.”
Jason is one of hundreds of professional services staff who keep the university ticking over, often hidden behind the scenes, dedicating their careers to higher education and helping not just students but their fellow colleagues.
“Finally, the other thing that I really value about my role is just simply being able to support colleagues across the university – I think it’s really important that they know that there is someone there who is always available to listen and help.”