The Manufacturer Podcast: Skills & People Series, Episode 4

Posted on 25 Mar 2022 by Tom St John

The editorial team return with this week's edition of The Manufacturer Podcast - episode 4 of the Skills & People Series

Hello listener, in this episode of our skills and people series we take two trips to two UK manufacturing factories. Find out why the people culture is so ingrained at Sheffield based manufacturer, Gripple, as we speak with Katrina Richie, People and Culture Director and Marcie Rowbotham, Head of Learning and Development.

We also pay a visit to Origin in High Wycombe, a family run company that shares the same ethos of people being the company’s biggest asset. This trip took us to High Wycombe where we met Founder & COO Victoria Brocklesbury.

Both these manufacturers were recognised for excellence in last year’s TMMX Awards during Digital Manufacturing Week.

In between these two factory visits, we feature The Manufacturer’s Nikhil Kumar. Currently working with us in Digital Operations Delivery, Nikhil did a degree in engineering, and explains how this experience gave him the skills to explore different opportunities.

Listen here

Factory Visits


Gripple factory shot

Katrina Richie, People and Culture Director: “At Gripple we’re unpicking the culture, and we’re going as far as saying ‘this is what people will do and this is what we’ll hear people say and this how people will operate.’ It’s not an easy thing to implement. I’ve met businesses who talk about having a great culture, but when you ask them about it they can’t describe it. Here, you can really feel the culture.

“This all starts with recruitment -we recruit on a values basis. We may come across people with the best experience and qualifications, but if you’re not going to fit the business then you’re not going to work for Gripple.”

Marcie Rowbotham, Head of Learning and Development: “We have numerous programmes that operate across the business – right down to operator level where we’ll assess not just core competencies but also personal behaviours. Are they able to demonstrate the Gripple values at leadership level? If so, that puts them on a career trajectory that means they can develop in to team leaders and eventually site leaders if possible.

“Our core value is always to hire the best people and keep them in the business. We have a really interesting culture of people moving across teams. From my own experience, I was head of marketing until about 6 months ago. My interest in marketing after spending 10 years in it had probably dwindled, so the business supported me in my decision to move to a new career path. We do that for people at all levels of the business.”


Origin factory shot

Victoria Brocklesby, Founder & COO – “Times have changed so much over the last few years in terms of working paterns and how people would like to work. I think a lot of people have reassessed the work life balance. For us, having skilled and quality people here is absolutely key – our people are our greatest asset. Having the right people in place to deliver on the vision for the company has always been hugely important.

“Where it gets complicated is finding people to do the factory roles. Brexit had a big impact on that. A lot of our members of staff decided to return home to their families in some of the Eastern European countries, which we really supported – everyone has got to make that decision for themselves. It has however, left us with a gap from a manufacturing point of view.

“We’ve done a lot to support people getting in to those roles, right through from the culture of the business, by getting the word out that we’re a fantastic company to work for, through to the training and support that we offer. In addition to this – paying people the right money. It’s so important that you stay top of market if you want to get the best people.”

Listen back to our previous episode in this series