Directorate for the Student Experience

Getting to know the SLP Team: Gareth Hughes

4 July 2018

What is your role within the SLP and what is a typical day like?

I work as part of the SLP Delivery Team, with a specific focus on communications and engagement. There’s no such thing as a typical day on SLP! But my focus at the moment is split between two things. One is the immediate here and now – project managing the website, newsletters and our monthly communication packs, presenting to colleagues on the project and working with our academic group and other stakeholder committees to capture feedback and cascade information. The other is longer term: planning campaigns to ensure that colleagues feel ready for the changes that SLP will deliver, which we know are going to be challenging but really exciting.

As the project develops, the team's focus will turn to promoting the significant programme of training that will be delivered before the processes and systems powered by SLP go live and making sure students are well aware of what improvements they can expect to see and when these will be delivered.

How long have you been involved in the Project?

I joined SLP in November 2017, but I was aware of it for a good while beforehand because I had been working in the Global MBA team in the Business School and in 2016 we began to use a very basic version of Campus Solutions 9.2 as part of the first adopter pilot.

What made you want to join the Project?

I moved to Manchester when I was 18 to do my undergraduate degree here at UoM. When I graduated, I didn’t want to leave the city, so I went to the Careers Service, got on to the Manchester Graduate Talent programme and began an internship in the DSE. Since then I’ve worked in a variety of different roles – programme administration, student support, admissions, marketing, recruitment, communications and engagement. Having that breadth of experience, as an applicant, then a student and then a member of staff, has helped me to appreciate why we need to make changes and why delivering SLP is the right thing for our University to do. So I jumped at the opportunity when I saw the role advertised on StaffNet.

What were you working on before you joined the SLP?

I was based in Alliance MBS for 6 years. It was a great place to work and I made some friends for life there. I had a number of roles, my last one was leading the student support team on the Global MBA programme, which is a blended learning programme delivered through our campus here in Manchester and through centres in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Sao Paolo and Dubai. It was really exciting to work with students from different cultures, based all over the world, and with colleagues based in the centres.

What do you enjoy most about working on the SLP?

The people. There’s a real buzz about the place in Bainbridge House, from the teams working full time on the project, our Accenture colleagues, and the hundreds of University staff that we get coming to through the doors to take part in workshops and events. People have a lot of great ideas of how we might make things better for students and simpler for staff and it's good to see SLP creating a foundation to capture them and actually put them in to practice.

Out of all the benefits that the SLP will deliver, which one(s) are you most excited about?

The ones that save time, both for students and staff. As a student I found it really frustrating trying to navigate Campus Solutions to see my exam results or complete registration. It felt like hacking the University, so I’m glad we're bringing student facing processes up to where they should be and delivering a vastly improved user interface with the new My Manchester.

When I became a member of staff I had similar frustrations to when I was a student. When I worked in admissions for example, I used to get really annoyed with how complicated it was to create and manage draft CAS’s for new applicants – I lost count of the number of Campus Solutions screens I had to go through for each CAS, and my inbox would build and build while I was spending so much time on CAS processes. So I’m really pleased that we’re launching an area in the new My Manchester for applicants to manage their own CAS’s, and automating CAS communications.

There are lots of other examples like this, where we'll be able to free up people's time to spend on activity that has more value, and these are the changes that I find most exciting.

What is one of the things on your bucket list?

Conquering my fear of heights! The other week I managed to do Go Ape in Delemere Forest without collapsing in to a heap... so maybe I'm on my way!

Gareth Hughes, Communication & Stakeholder Engagement Officer (SLP)

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