Maxine Sharples

Liverpool is the place that Maxine calls home, and the city that she loves. Born to her very Liverpudlian parents, her family moved to Kent when she was just six years old, and quickly she lost her scouse accent.

However, Maxine made sure that she would move back to the city at the earliest opportunity. So, at 18, fresh out of college, she moved up to Liverpool to join LJMU as an undergraduate student, marking the start of her connection with the university and an opportunity that would eventually lead to her working for LJMU nearly two decades later.

“That opportunity would be my offer letter from LJMU to study a four-year BA (Hons) in International Business and Chinese. No one in my family had ever been to university and I was encouraged into applying and guided through the process by a great college tutor.

“This is by far the best thing that has happened to me, for everything good in my life stems from there. My degree set a new course for me, and I’ve never looked back, still living and working here in Liverpool some 19 years later.”

Maxine’s degree choice would take her on a journey across the world, affording her the chance to live, study and work in China for a whole year as part of her degree studies.

“It is this year in China that was my making and my breaking. By the age of 20, I was living in China’s capital city Beijing, a long way from beans on toast but soon speaking quite proficiently in Mandarin. I was able to secure an internship in Shanghai with a logistics company who made me essentially cold call steel mills for four months.

“It was an immense culture shock and challenge but there is something so rewarding about understanding and finally being understood in another language and in 2009 I graduated with a modest 2:1. After several years work experience, I came back to LJMU in 2012 to study for a MSc in International Logistics.”

As a double graduate with a passion for learning, Maxine followed a career into higher education, first working at the University of Liverpool before the chance to own her dream home in the city brought her full circle, joining her alma mater, Liverpool Business School, in a part-time role so that she could project manage her home renovations.

“I am so very fortunate to live in the house of my dreams in a city I love. I took on a heritage house that was earmarked for demolition and battled adversity to transform it into a modern home that has since received international media attention.

“It is hard to put into words how my life has changed through a basic but intrinsic need for housing security. Harking back to my business studies education at LJMU, we learnt about motivational theorist A. Maslow and the ‘Hierarchy of Needs’. According to the theory, for motivation to arise at the next stage of life, each prior stage must be satisfied by an individual. Housing security is a stage that needs to be satisfied for the modern person to progress in life.

“Once I invested the money to renovate the property, I owned it outright, I no longer had rent to pay, or worry about being evicted, the shift is metamorphic, and I feel like I have graduated life. After all most of us only know the struggle to make rent and can’t see past the end of the month.”

Juggling work and the renovations really tested Maxine’s resilience, but it also gave her clarity over her working life.

“I am not showing up for work only to pay off a mortgage, it is a shift in mindset that you can only understand once you are living it. I feel I have self-actualised and now I am motivated to work towards a higher purpose. My work is not just a vehicle to pay the bills, but a conscious choice and I choose LJMU.”

“Working in higher education is a playground for anyone with a love of learning...I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.”

– Maxine Sharples

Since joining LJMU in 2021 as a project support officer, Maxine has supported several projects across the business school, from managing a consortium of researchers across Europe to deliver project milestones, to a host of grant funded projects designed to upskill the city region’s future leaders through leadership and management programmes.

As Maxine moves into a new role, working with the new Faculty Associate Dean Professor Tony Wall, she’s committed to staying at the university, driving forwards the aims and ambitions of the business school, while developing herself and giving something back to the university community in another of her roles as a yoga instructor!

“Working in higher education is a playground for anyone with a love of learning. I pride myself on continuous professional development, my brain has got to keep learning and there is always something to try working at LJMU, whether it’s learning the ukulele, a mentoring programme or a doctorate degree, there is a culture of encouragement from the university to continuously improve yourself. I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.

“Talking of personal development, I wanted to consolidate my gains in both my yoga practice and my Mandarin so in 2019 I went back to China to study for my yoga teacher qualification.

“The university’s fitness centre was the first place to employ me as a yoga instructor, shout out to Steve Grace for giving me the chance. I started by taking the Sunday morning slot on the timetable in 2021 - probably because they couldn’t get anyone else – and I grew the class from zero people to 35 students today.

“I now teach six classes per week and have co-created the Yoga Society with JMSU. I’m very active with wellbeing initiatives always looking to promote and share the practice with as many people as I can. I have worked hard to encourage more men onto the mat taking part in Movember initiatives, giving free sessions to good causes. I developed the menopause yoga class during the university’s Feel Fab Feb programme and it’s now a regular class on the timetable. I have given talks, taster sessions, and recorded mindfulness meditations. I am also a wellbeing ambassador within the business school regularly dragging colleagues along to my classes!”