From Dispensing Optician to Regional Training Manager

Posted on November 20, 2017
Author: Sam Reed

Meet Paula Mealy - Regional Training Manager for Republic of Ireland

What was my background before Specsavers?
I qualified as a Dispensing Optician from City and East London College in 1986. As a full time student you are required to work a year before you can register with the General Optical Council and I did this with Dixey Opticians in London. I then worked with Dolland and Aitcheson where I managed a few stores before I married an Irishman and moved to Cork. I started to work for Specsavers in 1990, when the Cork store opened, the second store in Republic of Ireland to open.

In a nutshell, what do I do?
The Regional Trainer combines specialist Optical, Audiology and Customer Service skills with training delivery experience to facilitate workshops to team members in all areas of the business – Optometry, Audiology and Heathcall in the UK/ROI.

The brief includes facilitating content across optical, customer service, dementia and audiology disciplines. It is a delivery focused role, responsible for facilitating a quality and consistent range of practical group workshops as part of an overall blended learning framework and any annual plan national projects. The role of the Regional Trainer is to ensure the learner’s experience is challenging, practical and is effective experiential learning.

What does my typical day look like?
Every day is different. My most typical day would involve delivering a training course in one of the two Training Centres - Kildare, near Dublin, and Mallow, near Cork City. I get there early to meet my delegates and make them feel comfortable and at ease. I have objectives to reach for each subject and also I take into consideration the delegates personal objectives; so I need to be flexible and adaptable.

What makes you most proud of your time at Specsavers?
The reason I do my job is the satisfaction I get in seeing someone have that ‘light bulb’ moment when they understand what I have been explaining, especially when it is something they have had difficulty with previously.

How have you been developed?
In store I was the Dispensing Optician and In-Store Trainer. I was developed for the role of In-Store Associate. This meant that I also delivered training in the classroom. These developments lead me to my current role. Every quarter I have my own personal objectives. These are self-led, which Specsavers and I are advocates for. You are ultimately responsible for your own learning. These objectives can be anything that I feel would enhance my role as Regional Training Manager. I also meet up with my North Team colleagues for peer to peer cluster meetings. With my Regional Training Manager colleagues we have team development days. We recently had a two-day course with Genius Learning Ltd, all about Accelerated Learning.

As a Dispensing Optician, I have the responsibility of keeping up-to-date with Professional Training for both the UK and ROI. Specsavers supply lots of opportunities for this through one day workshops that I attend.

What do you love about your job? What is a challenge?
I love the variety. No two days are the same, and each group of people that comes to a course is different, with its own dynamic and character. I also love being back in store and I have the opportunity to do this when we train staff for new businesses.

It gives me great job satisfaction seeing the progress of retail teams from the classroom courses that I run and how this in turn impacts on their business in store. I am also able to help develop key job roles i.e. In-Store Trainers, with their In Store Development Pathway. My main challenge very often is fitting in all that I want to do!!

Describe the Specsavers culture in 3 words
Evolving, fun and rewarding.

What advice would you give someone looking to join Specsavers?
I have been working with Specsavers since 1990. That’s 27 years and I still love it. So take a leap. You won’t regret it. Specsavers is exciting, supportive, rewarding and fun.

Read more stories from our employees here