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Pioneering businesswoman honoured by Northumbria

19th April 2024

Roisin Currie, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Greggs PLC, has been awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law by Northumbria University, Newcastle in recognition of her outstanding contribution to business, her commitment to diversity in the workplace and her support in creating positive futures for people leaving prison.

Her appointment to lead Greggs in May 2022 created history for the 85-year-old company – a leading food-on-the-go retailer and one of the region’s most successful and high-profile PLCs.  Roisin has been credited as a key driver in the company’s rapid growth in recent years as it continues with its ambition to have significantly more than 3,000 stores across the UK.

As CEO, Roisin has focused heavily on nurturing the strong culture that is at the heart of Greggs and she sees this as a key component of the organisation’s ongoing success. Roisin is also a keen and active supporter of the Greggs Foundation, reflecting her desire to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged people across the communities in which Greggs operates. The Greggs Foundation is a grant-giving organisation and distributes more than £4.5 million a year to help build stronger, healthier communities.

Roisin is an advocate for improving social mobility, and was integral to establishing the Greggs Fresh Start programme. Through Fresh Start, candidates who might not normally apply through mainstream recruitment processes are encouraged and enabled to learn about the great opportunities at Greggs, including returning citizens and long-term unemployed. Greggs has been able to reach over 3,400 candidates, offer 170 placements and 210 jobs including 34 management roles through Fresh Start. Roisin is also Chair of the Employers’ Forum for Reducing Re-offending, a voluntary role working with the Ministry for Justice and New Futures Network, and a trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh Charity.

Having grown up in Glasgow, Roisin studied Business studies and Business Law at the University of Strathclyde in the late 1980s. She was just 15 when she entered the world of retail, working in a shoe shop at the weekend and then working a couple of evenings a week at ASDA throughout university and beyond, progressing through the ranks and into senior management, with roles including Retail People Director and Distribution People Director.

In 2018, Roisin featured in the Northern Power Women List, Europe's largest awarding body championing gender equality. She was also a panel judge for the 2022 Great British Businesswoman Awards, which celebrates the women who are changing the face of business across the United Kingdom.

Roisin is passionate about encouraging businesses to become aware of the benefits of working with universities and is already actively engaged with Northumbria’s Newcastle Business School as an Advisory Board member, providing strategic advice to the senior leadership team. She has also helped strengthen an established relationship Greggs has with Northumbria by taking on student placements and employing the University’s graduates. Many of these recruits have secured permanent employment with Greggs and are progressing swiftly into increasingly senior positions. Roisin believes the success that Greggs has had from this partnership with Northumbria, in terms of people development and leadership succession planning, could be replicated by other companies.

Commenting more on this relationship with Northumbria and on receiving her honorary degree, Roisin said: “It is a privilege to receive this honorary degree from Northumbria University. Through my role as an Advisory Board member at the University and welcoming a number of its graduates to Greggs over the years, I have experienced first-hand not only its excellence in teaching but also its dedication and contribution to improving social mobility and levelling up the region – a key passion of mine. I look forward to continuing to work with the University and its student population in the years ahead as we continue to build stronger, healthier communities.”

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