Working in retail as a Training Manager at Specsavers - Heather's story

Posted on December 06, 2017
Author: Sam Reed

Meet Heather McClinton -

Regional Training Manager, North West

What was your background before joining Specsavers?
I joined Specsavers when I was 19 years old; I remember it clearly as I had just finished college and achieved my A Levels in Art and Design, Philosophy and Psychology. It was a difficult time that I believe all young adults go through, deciphering what next steps to take after further education and hoping to build a career. Personally I made the decision that university wasn’t the right path
for me and felt a full time position in retail would suit me better at the time. I had worked in River Island for 3 years alongside studying, so was used to a busy retail environment and was ready for a new challenge, which was when I spotted the advertisement for a meet and greet position at my local Specsavers Store, my journey started there!

In a nutshell, what do you do?
In my current role as a Regional Training Manager I am responsible for working closely with key stakeholders across the North West to promote Learning and Development within the business. I deliver in-house training to improve business performance, sales and customer service and as a result of this get to meet a lot of different people within the world of Specsavers. A huge chunk of my role involves presenting and coordinating learning at our Regional Training Centres and sometimes divisional meetings. Occasionally my support could be required nationally meaning I get to travel a lot as part of my job and visit new cities which is a real highlight of the role for me.

What does your typical day look like?
My average day starts with my hour commute to Preston, which is where the training centre I am responsible for is based. I arrive at 8:30am ready to prepare the classroom for the day ahead, making sure all resources are to hand and help to create a fun learning environment. Before everyone arrives for the day’s course I usually complete any admin I have, this ranges from answering emails to marketing future courses and meetings. Once everyone has arrived I am ready to kick start the course for the day, the subject can vary from hearcare, contact lenses, optics or general customer service training and I can have a variety of roles and experience in the room. My responsibility is to lead the day, facilitate group discussions and ensure those attending leave with new skills, achieving their objectives and generally had a great day. A course would usually finish at 4:30pm, leaving me time to tidy the room for the next day and get back to the usual admin of completing the attendance and expense reports for the day. A days delivering can often be followed by a team conference call, we often work alone so this is a great way of catching up with colleagues and keeping in the loop with any updates or projects that we are working on. Finally, I lock up and it’s back on the road home!

What makes you most proud of your time at Specsavers so far?
I am proud of achieving my goal of becoming a Regional Training Manager. When joining the business as a front of store role I had no expectations of how far I could go and in all honestly never imagined it as a long term career. To my surprise working in optics was a challenging and enjoyable experience, requiring both new technical skills and knowledge. In a short space of time I began to progress within the store and discovered the rewarding world of training! I knew this is where I wanted to develop and become a full time trainer, Specsavers as a company was so encouraging and supportive in getting me where I wanted to be and finally I reached that goal. I’m very proud of originally joining the business with no optical experience and then years later I am training others and playing a small part in their development.

How have you developed?
Partly through having the right attitude, I have always been motivated and enthusiastic at work grabbing any opportunity to learn with both hands. Lucky for me Specsavers had lots of opportunities on offer! I worked through the CDP training at the time to upskill my dispensing knowledge and achieved my CERT 3 qualification whilst working in store. When appointed the In Store Trainer role by my Director I attended the In Store Trainer bootcamp course to upskill my presenting skills to the highest of standards, I suppose the equivalent to that now would the In Store Trainer pathway programme. I continued to build on this purely through gaining experience of the role in store until my potential was spotted by a visiting member of the RST team. I was recruited as an In Store Trainer Associate, a role that required my support regionally by acting as cover for the RST team to deliver courses. I was still employed by my store at this point, and would be needed as an ISTA once a month on average, but this opportunity enabled me the exposure to working regionally. When a full time regional trainer position arose, I was ready for it!

What do you love about your job? What is a challenge?
One of the reasons I love my job is being able to help others realise their full potential and play a small part in their Specsavers journey, it’s really rewarding. I’ve always enjoyed teaching since my time in a school for work experience at 16 and you can’t beat that feeling of helping someone accomplish something new, especially if they had previously struggled with a skill and then overcome it with your help. A challenge in my role is that my work diary can get VERY busy! Excellent organisation skills are essential! I am accountable for planning my own diary so it’s key that I keep on top of things and react to what’s happening in the business.

Describe the Specsavers culture in three words
Passionate about people.

What advice would you give someone looking to join Specsavers?
Whether you have worked in optics before or not I would definitely consider joining the Specsavers family. The opportunities are endless and there are so many career paths you can explore! More importantly it is a company that is encouraging and wants you to succeed, whatever career path you choose, Specsavers will help you get there.

Read more stories from our employees here