Focusing on optics
January 04, 2018
From Saturday girl to retail director
WHEN Nicole Thacker, then just 15-years-old, undertook a weeks’ work experience with a local opticians, little did she realise that this would not only be the start of a great career in optics, but that it would also lead her to jointly owning and running
a leading optical practice in her home town.
After completing her work experience at Specsavers in Arnold, Nicole’s enthusiasm was evident, and so she was asked to come back and support the team on Saturdays. She maintained this role throughout her school years, before heading
off to Leeds University to study chemistry.
Returning home as a student in the holidays, Nicole got a job with the neighbouring Specsavers store in Nottingham, which was then located at 12 Pelham Street, and continued to develop her knowledge around the industry.
‘I’d been at university for a year, and began to question where my heart truly was,’ says Nicole. ‘I did contemplate dropping out at that stage, but I was encouraged to finish my studies and went on to complete a masters. But when I graduated, I returned to Nottingham and to Specsavers - I realised that there I could combine my science skills with my love for optics and retail. I liked the fact that unlike chemistry, my days at Specsavers were less black and white, and while science lies behind the heart of everything that we do, the service, and our business, is far more than that.’
At the end of 2002, Specsavers Nottingham relocated to its current premises on Wheeler Gate and soon after also saw a change in leadership with the appointment of retail store director, Simon Dunn. Now an integral member of the team, Nicole was promoted to store manager and worked hand in hand with Simon to grow the team and develop the business.
‘I’ve always been keen to learn and will put my hand up to get involved with everything,’ continues Nicole. ‘It was a really exciting time to be with the store and to be part of the journey.’
Nicole had always had her sights set on becoming a Specsavers partner, and so undertook the relevant training to help her on that pathway. She was also able to gain first hand knowledge about the role, and what it entailed, as her boyfriend heads up Specsavers in Sleaford.
Then in August of this year the opportunity came up for Nicole, now 40, to become a joint venture partner at Specsavers in Nottingham, joining Simon Dunn and Ravi Chawda, ophthalmic director. It was a dream come true, she says.
‘My story may not be unique, but it does demonstrate that with the right aptitude, desire and support you can achieve your career goals,’ adds Nicole. ‘From a 15-year-old school pupil to now managing and running a business that has 90 staff and serves the eyecare needs of more than 65,000 customers is a big step. I’ve been hugely fortunate to have had supportive leaders help me on my journey, and, although it’s taken a little while, it’s been massively rewarding. I’m now looking forward to working with Simon and Ravi to continue to grow our store and team, while maintaining our commitment to offering the very best in optical care.’