At Specsavers you don't stop learning
Meet Laura Bearham - Regional Training Manager
What was your background before joining Specsavers?
I have worked in optics for 17 years and started in an independent Optician when I was 16. I got the optics bug and have never wanted to do anything else. I have taken many roles within optics, I started my journey as an optical assistant and developed up to a store manager and then became a store manager designate for under-performing stores.
I knew I always wanted to train people and was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to do that 6 years ago and within that time I completed my CIPD in Learning and Development. I started with Specsavers 2 and half years ago as a Regional Training Manager and in that time I have finished my Cert 3 and my management course ILM3.
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I support 4 Divisions across Kent, East Sussex, London South East and London South West. My main responsibility is to deliver training out of the Gravesend training centre to my wonderful learners and this can be anything from introduction to optics, hearcare and contact lenses through to the Instore trainer development pathway. I am responsible for supporting the Regional Relationship Managers within my divisions in engaging stores with learning and development and the training offer and also supporting managers and instore trainers at meetings and L&D clinics.
What does your typical day look like?
My days are so varied. The main bulk of my week will be delivering training and supporting stores with any training queries or needs. I attend managers meetings and host instore trainer meetings every quarter. I speak to my Regional Relationship Managers once a week to find out what is going on in the divisions and how I can support and try to meet with them as often as we can. I also look at ways to engage stores with the learning and development offer within this be through L&D clinics or drop in centres. I also have admin to do on the odd day which would be sending course calendars, catching up on emails, evaluating the learning offer and completing expenses.
What makes you most proud of your time at Specsavers so far?
It really is impossible to choose one thing. I love my learners and instore trainers - they make my role. I have a really talented and enthusiastic group of Instore Trainers who I support and we have a Whatsapp group and it always makes me so proud to see some of the wonderful/creative things they share and how much they support each other. It also makes me proud to see people within their first few weeks not knowing much about optics/hearcare/contact lenses, and they can sometimes be cripplingly nervous and shy when they attend their first few courses, I am seeing them or hearing from them 2 years later and they have finished their apprenticeships or are doing Cert 3, Cert 4 and becoming dispensing opticians or hear care assistants and that means everything to me that I was privileged enough to have been part of their journey.
How have you developed?
I have been given so many opportunities since I joined Specsavers, I have been lucky enough to complete my Cert 3 and also I have recently finished my ILM3 management course which has developed my leadership skills. I recently attended an accelerated learning workshop which has made me look at new ways to make learning fun and engaging. Development takes place daily for me though as I learn something new every day.
What do you love about your job? What is a challenge?
I love seeing people develop and develop their careers within the business, I also love being part of managers and instore trainer meetings and adding real value and banging the learning and development drum. Challenges can be trying to get engagement with all stores and getting some things to land but this is not as common as it used to be.
Describe the Specsavers culture in three words
Can I use 6 – Friendly, Enthusiastic, Professional, Interested, Attentive and Helpful.
What advice would you give someone looking to join Specsavers?
Don’t hesitate and do it. Optics is completely different to anything you will ever do and the opportunities available to you within the business are all achievable. It is busy and challenging at times but the customers and the teams you work with make it all worth it. You will never stop learning which means it never become boring. We have people who have been in the business for 25 years and more, they wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t an amazing company to work for.