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 Mike Forgeron, Senior Solutions Executive. With a passion for continuous improvement and exploring personal limits, Mike took his love of rowing from the docks of Main-à-Dieu, Nova Scotia all the way to the world stage. In 1992, he represented Canada at the Barcelona Olympics where he and his team secured their gold medal win against Romania by 0.14 seconds – the closest rowing final in Olympic history.
Mike continued to compete through the nineties and took home medals at the Commonwealth, Pan Am and World Student Games before retiring in 1996 after participating in the Atlanta Olympics. His enthusiasm for the sport continues today, and he remains committed to supporting and helping shape Canadian Rowing for future athletes.

Small-town beginnings

Hailing from a small town in Nova Scotia, Mike’s family background in fishing set the stage for his interest in rowing. Growing up around water meant rowing small boats like skiffs and dories out to the commercial fishing boats were part of everyday life.
Upon arriving at the University of Western Ontario (now Western University), Mike joined the first-year rowing program and moved to racing boats.  Over time he was able to transition the rowing skills he developed in Nova Scotia and achieve success competitively. He began to identify the relationship between the effort he was putting in, the support from his peers and how the combination of the two were impacting the success of his results.

Gold-medal dreams and Olympic-sized lessons

After graduation, Mike moved to Victoria to pursue his dream of achieving an Olympic gold medal. “I had always been really excited watching Canadians represent their country, whether as athletes, artists or scientists and I wanted to see if I could get good enough at rowing to be a part of this.  I believed I could and thought it was cool to explore my limits.” Averaging 40-50 hours of training per week Mike’s dedication to the sport would eventually pay off.
Mike’s competitive rowing on the world stage has taught him many important lessons in his life beyond just the sport. For him, the Olympics emphasized the value of competition and perseverance in all parts of his life. “Sometimes the hardest thing is to just keep going because you feel like you’ve hit an obstacle and failed. A lot of the time, these small failures are letting you know exactly how close you are to being successful.  When you learn this, you make sure to keep going so you don’t miss that opportunity.”
Mike also learned that adapting to change was key to succeeding within a competitive environment. The ability to remain adaptable and flexible meant he constantly changed his approach when competing against other teams, “You have to look at what you are doing, and you have to learn from it. You have to keep pushing your internal boundaries and put yourself in situations that challenge yourself and make you uncomfortable. When you do that, you develop.”

At the heart of success

Decades later, Mike’s athletic history continues to influence how he performs in his professional life. Although sporting and corporate environments are two entirely different landscapes, many of the skills that he accumulated over his athletic career have been largely transferable in his professional accomplishments.
Teamwork remains at the heart of Mike’s values which he applies closely to his work. Success for Mike is recognized by the sum of many parts rather than by one individual. “We all bring different parts to an organization (whether it be sports or business) and there’s opportunity to achieve a lot more success by building strength through diversity and expertise. Teamwork has a multiplicative effect.”
Mike also acknowledges that taking a logical approach to all endeavors can attribute to success. Through sport, he quickly learned that cutting corners wouldn’t reap the rewards he set out to achieve unless they were approached with a transparent and ethical mindset.

The future of rowing

For Mike, Ricoh’s motto Imagine. Change. is relevant across all areas of his life. The pursuit of something better was his biggest motivator as an Olympic hopeful, and it remains so now as he contributes to the future of rowing in Canada. “It’s evolution, it’s continuing to try and see what’s possible and to continue evolving towards that in a manner that benefits everybody. There’s lots of great stuff coming and we have to be open to letting those good things happen.”
Today, Mike continues to row and actively supports the connection between physical activity and mental well-being.  He is also on the board of the Canadian Rowing Foundation, supporting both its fundraising and governance work while sharing the benefits of his experiences with others.
Are you a Ricoh Change Maker? Learn more here.