Glenn Griggs,

CEO, Ricoh UK


Glenn Griggs, CEO, Ricoh UK, started his career as an apprentice. Now as a CEO, he recognizes the need for apprenticeship programs that offer true career mobility and ‘skills for life’...

Glenn Griggs,

CEO, Ricoh UK


Glenn Griggs, CEO, Ricoh UK, started his career as an apprentice. Now as a CEO, he recognizes the need for apprenticeship programs that offer true career mobility and ‘skills for life’...

Can you share your remarkable journey from apprentice to CEO?

I started my career as an apprentice at 16, joining the working world as a toolmaking apprentice. I worked at a local company where I grew up in Ilford, Essex, working on projects from multi-level print circuit systems to petrol pumps and even systems for defence.

As with anyone starting at that age, an apprenticeship felt like a big step into an unknown world. It was, however, a critical stepping stone that led to bigger and better things. At 21, I decided to pursue a career in sales. Due to the nature of my apprenticeship, which was very process-driven, I had a highly transferable skillset, even when switching job roles. 

This mindset and skillset have formed the basis of my career and brought me, eventually, into the world of print and business operations. I’ve benefitted from experiencing the industry from all angles and points of view, learning step-by-step. The path eventually brought me to the role of CEO.

How are you ensuring this level of career mobility is also possible for your apprentices?

My apprenticeship was about learning a skill for life. Even now, I feel confident I could still get a job as a toolmaker. And we’ve worked hard to ensure our Ricoh apprenticeships nurture a range of skills that will carry participants through life.

We see apprenticeships as not only a way to introduce new talent to the organisation but also to instil core Ricoh values which we believe are fundamental to working life, regardless of industry.

Due to the nature of my apprenticeship, which was very process-driven, I had a highly transferable skillset, even when switching job roles.

Glenn Griggs | CEO, Ricoh UK

Fulfilment through work is a key driver. We provide opportunities for individuals to develop their potential into a meaningful career pathway, alongside flexible working to find a balance between work and home life. We also want them to have the mental freedom to introduce learning to the equation.

We have a long history as a training provider, delivering leadership and technical apprenticeships, supporting individuals to find their purpose, and facilitating opportunities to develop that into further potential.

Part of this process is supporting individuals to find their purpose and facilitate opportunities to develop individual strengths and build on their potential.

One example is Evan Powell, who joined Ricoh as a Level 3 ICT Apprentice and completed Scala, giving him a foundation of technical/digital knowledge which in turn opened up the world of Project Management for him. He has gone on to complete a Level 4 Project Management apprenticeship within the TelCo division and is a shining example of our process yielding success.

Over your career, how have apprenticeship programs changed for the better?

I’ll save my war stories for another time, but it's safe to say today’s apprenticeships are delivered in a very different format today.

Our structure, for example, is not based on a pass-or-fail approach. It’s a learning journey where individuals are nurtured to learn in the best way for them and learn what it’s like to be in a professional workplace. The apprenticeship program also doesn’t stop with new talent. They also offer valuable learning and upskilling opportunities for existing staff.

I understand that apprenticeships can come with challenges concerns about entry requirements, fair wages, sufficient time for learning, and ensuring that apprentice roles are valued – to name a few.

To address these, we’ve partnered with the Prince's Trust to remove entry requirements for our degree apprenticeships, increased starting wages above the standard rate for many roles, emphasised to managers the importance of dedicating time for learning, and encouraged apprentices to take ownership of their expertise and actively contribute their insights. While we're aware there may be further challenges, we're committed to providing a supportive and enriching apprenticeship experience for all.

Ricoh's CEO knows the importance, and challenge, of embedding apprenticeship programs
How can HR teams inspired by National Apprenticeship Week embed a sustainable approach to apprenticeships?

While National Apprenticeship Week shines a light on this valuable pathway, a sustainable and impactful program requires long-term vision. 

Firstly, ensure your initiative seamlessly aligns with the business and people strategies. Remember, apprenticeships are investments in your future talent pool, directly shaping your organisation's capabilities. Don't view them as isolated efforts; integrate them into the core strategy to ensure alignment and lasting impact.

Acknowledge that measuring ROI can be tricky. You won't see immediate financial returns, but the commitment to development fosters long-term benefits. Expect to see improvements in business operations, talent acquisition, and overall efficiency as your nurtured talent flourishes.

Finally, cultivate a culture of continuous learning throughout your organisation. Let development become the DNA of your company, where managers actively take on coaching roles in their apprentices' success. Remember, they are vital stakeholders in the program's impact. By aligning with the bigger picture, prioritising long-term benefits, and fostering a culture of learning, your HR team can build an apprenticeship scheme that breathes life into your organisation's future.

How can HR ensure all leaders/managers see the value of apprenticeships?

As with any business initiative, success starts and ends with your people. Getting buy-in from leaders and managers is crucial for success. Firstly, involve them from the start. Include them in program development. Don't just inform them about the program. Invite them to participate in briefings with training providers, select relevant apprenticeship standards using resources like the Institute for Apprenticeships' Occupational Paths, and share their insights on program structure and benefits. This fosters ownership and increases their understanding of the program's goals.

Secondly, share the benefits explicitly and connect apprenticeships to business goals. Highlight how apprenticeships directly contribute to achieving strategic objectives, like developing future talent, addressing skills gaps, or increasing innovation. Showcase examples of successful placements and their impact on the business.

A pprenticeships are investments in your future talent pool, directly shaping your organisation's capabilities. Don't view them as isolated efforts; integrate them into the core strategy to ensure alignment and lasting impact.

Glenn Griggs | CEO, Ricoh UK

Thirdly, focus on leadership development. Emphasise how coaching apprentices provides valuable leadership development opportunities for managers. They gain experience mentoring, delegating, and providing feedback, enhancing their own leadership skills.

Fourthly, empower them as coaches. Provide training and resources on effective coaching techniques specifically for apprentices. This empowers them to effectively guide and support their apprentices, maximising learning and engagement. 

Finally, recognise their contribution! Celebrate the successes of both apprentices and managers involved in the program. Publicly acknowledge the positive impact of their coaching and commitment, motivating them to continue their involvement.

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