*In 2005, Specsavers acquired the successful Danish optical chain Louis Nielsen, led by its founder of the same name. As the brand was so well-known within Denmark, the stores kept operating under the name Louis Nielsen.
When Lean talks about his time at Louis Nielsen, he emphasises how there has always been progress and new goals to look forward to.
“I like when things are constantly moving forward. If not, my energy level goes down. That’s why I’ve always been motivated by the pace at Louis Nielsen. And I’m motivated by the fact that there are always new challenges to deal with,” says Lean, who had plenty of those when he started his career as an optician intern at Ryesgade in Aarhus. A bustling store with special offers that put the then-upstart company on the map and got customers queueing at the door.
“Our prices were insane compared to the competition, so at that time we sometimes had lines of customers queueing outside for the offers. I was never bored,” says Lean.
When Lean finished his education as an optician, he worked his way into a new role as line manager at Ryesgade. The fast pace kept on, and so did the urge for new challenges. As a line manager, he worked more closely with the team members, and he was motivated by seeing how they flourished under his leadership.
“When you’ve worked as an optician for many years, the learning curve naturally becomes a little less steep. Instead, I wanted to gain a greater understanding of the processes surrounding financial management and not least the development of the team,” says Lean.
So, he decided to develop himself to develop others better. He joined the so-called ‘Partner in Development’ programme, designed to prepare promising colleagues to become partners and owners of their Louis Nielsen store. After completing the programme, it took only a year before the offer to become a partner in Næstved landed on his desk.
“I thought about it, and the next day I said yes. And I also said yes to renting an apartment that I hadn’t even seen. But that didn’t matter at the time. I wanted to be a partner so much.”
As a new partner, there was naturally a lot to learn, but Lean found great help in the strong support that Louis Nielsen offers to partners. The support meant that, after a while, he could direct his focus more on his team’s development—an area of business which, along the way, has become his darling.
“I never have to worry about setting up an ad or do other marketing tasks. I can just call the support office, and then it’s taken care of. That means I can focus on my team. I fondly call them my children because seeing them grow really motivates me,” says Lean, who became a partner six years ago.
During his 17 years at Louis Nielsen, he has also grown. Today, he has a well-run store – one of Louis Nielsen’s largest in the country. But what does it take to make a career at Louis Nielsen? If you ask Lean, he’s in no doubt. As a child of Vietnamese boat refugees, he was brought up to work hard to secure himself a better life than his parents had.
“Nothing in life is free. And working at Louis Nielsen isn’t a free ride either. But in return, there is a huge openness in the company. The management is willing to share their insights with you, and there’s always a network to rely on. It’s a company where you get every opportunity to develop. If you have the will and the flexibility, then you’ll no doubt get the tools your career needs.”
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