Specsavers is the best career decision I've ever made

Posted in Partnership on September 22, 2017
Author: Sam Reed

Meet Paul Stanway, Retail Partner

in Specsavers Norris Green 

What was your background before joining Specsavers?
Prior to Specsavers I worked for some big retail names such as B&Q and Marks & Spencer. My passion has always been in retail and owning my own retail business had always been a dream. 

Tell us a bit about your career journey at Specsavers?
I joined back in November 2010 as a Partner In Development (PID) and worked in the Bolton store for 14 months as part of their management team (after a brief induction!). The PID programme was supposed to last for 12 months but unfortunately there wasn't a store available in the North West at the end of it, so I initially stayed on in Bolton then Jack asked me to join the then Granada IST as a “spare” RPC until a store became available for me to buy into. As a temporary RPC I worked across the Region for 8 months helping TAPS (turnaround performance stores) to improve performance and get off TAPS.On the PID programme I attended most of the courses the company ran to pick up and increase my optical knowledge and skills as well as working with the in store team to learn about the business, this gave me a real insight into 'the Specsavers Way' and business as a whole. 

How has Specsavers supported your development?
As mentioned above the business moved me on from being a PID to performing in an active role. During this time I got to experience the business from the RST perspective, I visited Guernsey a few times and was able to not only increase my knowledge but also make valueable contacts that then stood me in good stead when I did eventually get my own store.

Having got my own store in October 2012 I didn't stop learning. The business had a programme of personal development workshops that I have and continue to attend. In 2013 I took on the position of Granada Vice Chairman attending meetings with the Specsavers Board and other Chairs/Vice Chairs to help to represent Partner's views.

In 2015 when the business restructured I became the NW Divisional Chair, a position I held for 12 months. Helping to not only represent views but to help shape future direction and initiatives. In July 2015 I became a Partner in a Hearcare business, and in March 2016 I also took on a second store (Old Swan) with an Ophthalmic Partner. My career journey with Specsavers has not stopped!

What clinical advances have you seen lately?
Clinical advancement has been constant since I joined the business. With all professional colleagues gaining both external and internal qualifications/accreditations to increase their knowledge and skills; particularly around around Enhanced Optical Services like MECS, Cataracts, Glaucoma, and more recently the OCT rollout.  

How are you driving forward optometry in your local community? 
All business' and Partners are encouraged to get involved in their local Optical Committee and I attend some meetings and have an Optometrist who is part of the committee. We also regularly issue press releases to keep eye health issues and such seasonal opportunities at the forefront of people's minds.    

Where do you think you have made real difference to someone's eye health? 
Whilst I am not a clinician it makes me very proud whenever one of my team spots something that requires a referral, and I know that we've helped to either improve someone's health or else prevent it getting worse.

In regards training and developing yourself and your clinical teams - how do you manage to stay at the leading edge of your profession?
It's easy since Specsavers is at the forefront of the profession and offers up a myriad of development opprtunites to keep both clinical and non clinical members of the team up to date!

What makes you most proud of your time at Specsavers so far?
Developing the talent with my teams. Most of my colleagues are local employees and I love to see them move on from trainees to as far as they wish to progress. We have many people who joined as trainee's and are now manager's or members of the professional team.

Describe the Specsavers culture in three words
Open, supportive and encouraging.

What advice would you give someone looking to join Specsavers?
Go for it! It's the best career decision I ever made.

You can read more stories from our Partners here