If you're looking for a long-term career then Specsavers is for you

Posted in Partnership on August 31, 2018
Author: Sam Reed

Meet Christine Robertson, Store Manager/Trainee

Hearing Aid Dispenser at Specsavers East Kilbride 

What was your background before joining Specsavers?
Prior to joining Specsavers five years ago, I was a Retail Practice Manager for Boots / Dolland & Aitchison Opticians for 6 years. I had 4 years previous retail management experience with Superdrug. I also studied and achieved my CIPD qualification in
Human Resource Management part time in the evenings. I originally qualified as a Sports Therapist, however, having secured a position, I soon realised this was not what
I wanted to do long term.

Tell us a bit about your career journey at Specsavers?
I had previously shown interest in the Specsavers Joint Venture Partner (JVP) model whilst still working for Boots Opticians where I completed the external assessment to
become ‘Stage 1 approved’. When I met with Shirley Ann Kennedy (Director East Kilbride) prior to interview, she advised that she was looking for someone whom she could consider in her long-term development plans of the store, and someone who would be interested in progressing into partnership at a later date. The position felt perfect for me. I joined the team in August 2013 having secured the role as Manager of a store that was about to undergo a massive relocation project. I was heavily involved in this project in supporting the team, the contractors and Shirley Ann as a sole Director. After a successful move, having fully settled into my role, in April 2014 I joined the Pathway program, graduating after my first assessment in October 2014. Over the last few years I have participated in many regional training sessions as well as online interactive learning modules. I have supported in developing and growing our team from one of approximately 20 to one of now 46 colleagues, all with their own development pathways in place. I am now in the process of studying at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh to become a Hearing Aid Dispenser and Hearcare Partner. I am now beginning to manage two clinics a week in store as a qualified Hearcare Assistant in order to build our business ahead of becoming a Hub store upon completion of my course.

How has Specsavers supported your development?
The biggest support I could ask for has come in the form of my Director, Shirley-Ann Kennedy. From day one, she has trusted and empowered me to make decisions and support her in order to build the business. She has opened up and involved me in all major decisions relating to the store and the team. Shirley-Ann is also a huge advocate of personal development and has always encouraged me to get as much exposure as I can across the business including seminars, management development courses, store visits to work with other managers/teams, building relationships with other store directors, Pathway and now the Hearing Aid Dispenser (HAD) program. I have developed strong relationships with the regional team, often being asked if other colleagues can attend the East Kilbride store as part of their own training or development in order to demonstrate our best practices. The Pathway program played a significant part in developing relationships with other managers across the country in similar positions to myself, some of which I carry on to this day. Although I was not initially intending to go down the route of HAD to become a Hearcare Partner, circumstances changed within our team. This allowed Shirley Ann to present me with this fantastic opportunity of diverting my partner path in a new direction. This is completely different for me and working full time, continuing as a Store Manager and studying to complete such a qualification has taken some getting used to. It has taken significant time management changes, however, the fact that I have an amazing and very capable management team supporting me and an incredibly encouraging director, has made the process far more achievable. The help from my supervisor Ryan Forbes and his Glasgow HAD and support team has also played a massive role in me getting through my first year, from answering my very basic hearcare questions to supervising my practical clinics.

What makes you most proud of your time at Specsavers so far?
I am most proud of the team we have in East Kilbride. Despite being a large team, they work together so well and they have shown a huge amount of support to me over the last year when I was out of store for residential weeks and practical experience. My management team are fantastic at what they do, and it is because of them that I have been able to carry on both as a Store Manager and a student, achieving an A in my final exam of first year as well as a clean sweep on my OSCE exam.

Describe the Specsavers culture in three word
Inclusive, encouraging and exciting.

What advice would you give someone looking to join Specsavers?
I would say that if you are looking for a long-term career, within a company that can offer development opportunities across a very wide spectrum, Specsavers is for you. I always anticipated that I would become a partner, however I wanted to experience the business from within before making that commitment. By doing so I have gained an incredible amount of experience and knowledge from one of the most knowledgeable directors in the business and a mentor for the rest of my Specsavers career.

You can read more stories from our Partners here