Specsavers in Ireland - Optical Partner Cathy's story

Posted on June 22, 2017
Author: Sam Reed

What was your background before joining Specsavers?
I started working at Specsavers in the Summer of 2005. I had just finished my first year in Optometry at DIT and I thought it would be a good idea to get some optical work experience over the holidays. In May 2005 Specsavers opened in Castlebar and due to this store’s proximity to my hometown, I decided to talk to its directors, Niamh O’Connell and Rachel Murphy, to see if I could get a few days experience.

At that time, I already had a part-time job working in a toy shop/newsagents, so I was used to dealing with customers and working in a very busy retail environment. However, once I got a taste for working at Specsavers, I soon gave up my other job and started working full-time as an Optical Assistant at Specsavers Castlebar.

By 2007, I was a Pre-reg Optometrist and decided to split my supervised practice between Specsavers Castlebar and Specsavers Galway. At the time, Noel Meehan was my Clinical Supervisor and in the Spring of 2008, Noel offered me a full-time position at Specsavers Galway on completion of my degree.

In a nutshell, what do you do?
I’m an Optometrist Director of a small Specsavers store in the West of Ireland. I provide excellent clinical care to all my patients and I enjoy developing my skills as an Optometrist through further education. I spend my time organising and encouraging my team and have a great working relationship with my business partners. I enjoy the variety of shared challenges that come our way on a daily basis.

What does your typical day look like?
In the morning, I meet with my retail director and we briefly discuss a variety of issues that need to be addressed in the shop that day. I begin my clinic at 9.10am and any given day could be spent completing my appointments and any referral letters, meeting with reps, performing one-to-one meetings, organising the rota and holidays for our team, discussing bonus and training plans with our managers and reviewing payroll and accounts with my retail partner! I enjoy how directorship offers variety in my day - no two days are the same and I really enjoy the blend of a clinical and business working environment.

What makes you most proud of your time at Specsavers so far?
I was very proud to have completed the Pathway programme and to have been awarded the ‘Best Leadership Project’ award by Dame Mary Perkins at my graduation ceremony.

I really enjoyed the whole Pathway process, from the interview stage to the assessment centre. It was an exciting challenge and a great opportunity to develop both personally and professionally. I enjoyed the ‘buzz’ I got from working alongside like-minded, ambitious individuals from all corners of Ireland and the UK.

How have you developed?
I’m quite ambitious and I’m always on the lookout for the next challenge. Over the years I’ve spent working at Specsavers, I’ve completed a variety of courses - from Business Management to Advanced Contact Lenses.

In 2012, I began a part-time MSc in Clinical Visual Science through the University of Ulster. I have a special interest in paediatric optometry and my research project focused on young children with lazy eyes. All the research data from this project was collected in my test room in Specsavers Galway. I was very lucky to have such great support from my director, Noel Meehan, and all the team at Specsavers Galway. I also had the backing from local Ophthalmologists who welcomed research from a local Optometry practice. On completion of my research project, my results were presented at conferences in Budapest and Prague and then published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

In my role as director, I have learned so many skills from my experiences leading a team of employees and dealing with customers on a daily basis. One thing in particular that I’ve learned is that staying calm and having a positive outlook helps with nearly every situation!

What do you love about your job? What is a challenge?
I love how I can blend my two strengths, science and business, in one job. I love the clinical aspect of my role, testing patient’s eyes and making a difference by providing excellent eye care. I also enjoy interacting with my customers and I’ve been very lucky to get to know some amazing people as a result. I really love seeing my team progress, from completing cert 3, cert 4, ILM 2 & 3.

To me, the sky is the limit at Specsavers and along with my retail director Annette, I love encouraging our team to fulfill their potential and follow their dreams.

Describe the Irish Specsavers culture in three words?
Encouraging, Fun and Professional. 

What advice would you give someone looking to join Specsavers?
Specsavers is a company where opportunities are endless. No matter what your background, if you are hard-working and ambitious there are so many ways to develop within the company - from Senior Optometrist, to management to directorship.

From an Optometrist’s perspective, Specsavers offer modern test rooms with state-of-the-art technologies supported by trained Optical Assistants and support staff. This creates such an efficient and enjoyable work environment.

You can explore the current opportunities we have for Optometrists across Ireland here: http://jobs.specsavers.co.uk/search-for-jobs/

If you want to discuss your ambitions in more detail, our in-house recruitment team look after opportunities in Ireland and are always on hand to advise. You can reach the team on uk.recruitment@specsavers.com or by phone on 01566 771888.

Click here to read all the latest news from Ireland and stories from our current Partners