imagine.change. is more than just Ricoh’s tagline. It’s the ethos that our employees embody so that they can focus their imaginative thinking to drive change. Over the next few months, we’ll be featuring a series of articles about Ricoh employees who have actively changed their communities, teams, and workplace for the better. We consider them to be the true Ricoh Change Makers.

Our featured Ricoh Changemaker this week is Emma Greco. One-part Business Development Consultant another, professional hockey player. Emma joined Ricoh a year ago and is enjoying her first professional role after graduating University. A seasoned athlete, Emma attributes her success at work to the skills and lessons she’s learned from a lifetime of playing sports. In her sales role, there’s competition, teamwork, and attention to detail, all of which have been refined through years of playing hockey and will no doubt serve her well as she changes the landscape of professional women’s hockey in Canada.

A family affair

Emma grew up Burlington, Ontario with two older siblings who both played hockey. When she was five, Emma followed in their footsteps and began playing as well. But it wasn’t love at first sight for her. In fact, she recalls telling her parents that she wanted to pursue figure skating instead. Knowing how fickle a five-year-old could be, her parents politely “declined her request” as Emma puts it, and again enrolled her the following year.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and looking back now, she’s thankful for that gentle nudge.

Change the sport. Keep the values

Hockey wasn’t the only sport Emma played growing up. Before even graduating high school she had tried her hand at field hockey, soccer, badminton, basketball, volleyball and even softball. “I tried to play a sport in every season.” Regardless of the sport, Emma’s passion for teamwork and competition have contributed to her success both on and off the ice (and the pitch, and the court, and the mound!).

From college to professional hockey

After graduating high school, Emma knew she wanted to continue her studies and her hockey career. “Going to a US college and playing hockey was the goal. There wasn’t really a professional league at the time, so playing for college was kind of like being professional.”   She attended Quinnipiac University and pursued an MBA while playing four years for the women’s hockey team. During her time with the Bobcats, she was named a Quinnipiac Scholar-Athlete and named to the ECAC Hockey All-Tournament Team.
Halfway through Emma’s university career, the National Women’s Hockey League was formed and shortly after graduating from Quinnipiac she was offered the chance to play professionally for the Connecticut Whale—an opportunity she hopes goes to more women players in the future.

Competing for change

With one season of professional hockey under her belt, Emma was recruited to join the Toronto Furies. Unfortunately, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded shortly thereafter, marking a setback for professional women’s hockey. Not one to accept defeat, Emma and a fellow teammate participated in local Skating Rally to raise awareness about an upcoming hockey showcase in Toronto and draw attention to women’s professional hockey.  The event, dubbed “Equal Sweat Deserves Equal Opportunity” was sponsored by Secret. Convinced that if people could see the talent and competitiveness in women’s hockey, the market would readily pay to watch games as they do for men’s hockey.
Quoted at the time, Emma said “We’re fighting for equal opportunity. We just want to have the chance to show how competitive we are, show that we can get fans in the stands, and you know try to change people’s minds about women’s hockey.”

Paving the way for future players

Emma’s fight for a place in professional hockey has paid off. In April of 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, the NWHL announced they were expanding to Toronto. Emma was one of the first five players to be signed. “To know the NWHL is expanding in this climate, means there’s investors who are investing in the team and there’s a market for it.

Though the decision was not an easy one, with a full-time job at Ricoh, she knew this was her opportunity to “play for something bigger than me.”
When she considers the future, Emma says “I hope over the coming years women’s hockey will continue to get better. I hope at the end of it, girls have the opportunity to play and not have to have a full-time job, that they can be paid well and have benefits. This is a steppingstone. We see where we want to go and we’re putting in the work now to help girls in the future.”
Are you a Ricoh Change Maker? Learn more here.