Working as an Optometrist in the beautiful East coast of Scotland
October 19, 2017
Meet Julia Campbell - Optometry Director of
Specsavers St Andrews
What was your background before joining Specsavers?
I joined Specsavers from another smaller multiple back in 2007, after realising that my ambitions lay not just in the test room but in the management of an optical business. After successfully completing the ‘Pathway’ accreditation, I initially worked as an employed Optometrist in a store in my home town of Birmingham. In August 2008, a store opportunity came up in St Andrews and I jumped at the chance to start, own and grow my own business in a different part of the UK.
In a nutshell what do you do?
I am the sole Optometrist Director of Specsavers St Andrews, on the East Coast of Scotland. I divide my time between leading the store’s clinical team, being a working Optometrist, performing eye examinations, seeing my regular patients and focusing on the commercial side of the store.
I also have to successfully manage the store; meeting and exceeding customer expectations as well as completing team training and development and crucially, leading the team from the front.
What does your typical day look like?
There is no such thing! It really is different every day, but we do begin each day with a staff huddle where we recognise great customer service and discuss possible challenges we may face that day/week.
On a testing day, I have a clinic which comprises of eye examinations, red eye appointments and contact lens aftercares and assessments. On an office day, I will have regular meetings with the management team, look at targets and areas of opportunity for business growth as well as staff development and the general day-to-day running of a busy store.
I love the fact that I can balance the clinical side of the business and see my regular patients (who I’ve known since we opened 9 years ago) with the business side. Testing my patients and getting to know them well has also opened up opportunities in terms of PR for our store - for example, sponsorship of the local choir and bowling club as well as school talks etc.
What makes you most proud of you time at Specsavers?
Having opened the store from scratch 9 years ago, I was most proud to be nominated for the Specsavers awards of “Best Overall Store” and “Best for Contact Lenses Store” in 2016. Myself and my team travelled down for the awards ceremony in Birmingham and it was a great evening of celebration for all their hard work. I am also extremely proud that we were one of the first Specsavers stores in the UK to be accredited as a ‘Platinum Employer’.
How have you developed?
Having started and trained as an Optometrist, my business skills initially were very basic; starting the business as a sole Optometrist Director was quite challenging. However, over the past few years with training and self-development I have grown into a business woman with a successful store. I have acquired leadership skills and most importantly have developed an attitude of, “how can we do this?” rather than asking myself, “can this be achieved?”
What do you love about your job, what is a challenge?
I love the fact my job is varied and uses both my clinical skills and my business skills on a daily basis. No two days are ever the same. I also love that I have a great work/life balance. As a busy mum to three children under five, Specsavers gives me the flexibility to achieve this. I know from friends and family how tricky it can be to achieve this across the business/retail world.
Optometry recruitment can sometimes be a challenge, due to a current shortage of Optoms in our location (the beautiful East coast of Scotland). So, we offer packages that offer real career opportunities to attract applicants looking for something a bit different to the ‘normal’ Optometrist role.
Three words to describe Specsavers:
Opportunity, Supportive and Fun.
What advice would you give someone who is looking to join Specsavers?
If you want to progress in your career, have a career that’s varied and have fun, Specsavers is for you. In my store, I always sit down with all the staff when they start to discuss career opportunities. We’ve had one Optical Assistant, who previously had no background in optics or hearing, progress through the training to become a HAD (Hearing Aid Dispenser) who now runs his own Audiology clinics. What’s more, my Dispensing Optician is currently training to become a Contact Lens Optician.
At Specsavers, Optometrists are given the opportunity to do management courses and complete ‘Pathway’, as well as more clinical-based courses such as the ‘Independent Prescribing’ course. Most importantly, Specsavers also offers a great work/life balance for its staff which is particularly suitable for parents- offering flexible work patterns to suit busy lifestyles.