Katrina Ritchie, who has spent most of her 20 years with Gripple, embedding the ‘Gripple Spirit’ in staff at the Sheffield-based employee-owned manufacturer of the world-beating wire joiner, has been appointed the company’s first female director.

Furthermore, Katrina has been invited to join a wide-ranging government commission and also a nationwide manufacturing judging panel.

As Gripple’s people and culture director with a team of 11 – seven in the UK and four others in Europe and the USA, Katrina is now a commissioner of the Workplace Training and Development Commission, set up recently by British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). Last year the BCC voted Gripple as the UK’s best employer.

The new commission’s purpose is to assess the current state of the UK’s workplace training and development in all business areas and to develop recommendations for the government’s policy makers.

After making the top 20 in The Manufacturer Top 100 list of influencers from the engineering and manufacturer sectors last year Katrina has been invited to join the judging panel in this year’s project. The Manufacturer Top 100 project showcases the most dynamic leaders, young pioneers and unsung heroes in the UK, all of whom have been nominated by their peers. Katrina will also be part of the UK’s largest showcase for manufacturing, the Digital Manufacturing 2020 launched at the House of Lords.

Katrina said: “Becoming a director is undoubtedly a tremendous opportunity for me personally, but what excites me most is the central role the People and Culture team has and will play in Gripple’s future. My focus will be to drive the people agenda globally, to embed the ‘Gripple Spirit’ and to develop our leaders to lead the Gripple way.

“I am honoured to be given the opportunities to influence workplace performance nationally. Within the commission I will aim to help to develop UK policies which will drive performance and success through employee engagement. As a Manufacturer Top 100 judge gives me a perfect opportunity to spot those people who will be open to a developing a culture of entrepreneurship, innovation and strong values which have made Gripple a success.”