The future of eye health excites

19/02 2024 - Support office

The future of eye health excites

Saara Kotila began studying optometry nearly a decade ago. After her first year, it was time to find a summer job at an optician’s store, and Specsavers jumped at the chance to give her one. Today she works in the Helsinki support office as part of the product team. Saara now ensures that new products and related materials reach the stores on time and that everyone involved knows them.

Saara's interest in optometry was sparked during her high school years. Despite initially envisioning herself as a high-profile lawyer in a flashy red sports car, she gradually realised that a career benefiting others directly and involving practical studies aligned better with her aspirations. Exploring various options, she found that optometry perfectly met her criteria. Upon completing her optometry studies, her conviction was confirmed – she had indeed made the right decision. Saara's journey in optometry has led her from caring for eye health at Specsavers to working at the Emergency Outpatient Clinic for Eye Diseases in Helsinki and back again.

At home right away

After graduating from optical school, Saara continued directly at Specsavers, where she had felt at home from the start. "My supervisor at the first Specsavers store was wonderful. She knew how to motivate and encourage me from the beginning of my career. The different Specsavers events also made me feel like I belonged and was doing something meaningful." In Saara’s opinion, the most notable characteristic of Specsavers is its exceptional team spirit. It’s also easy to get behind Specsavers' mission, i.e. good eye health for everyone. The concept is easy to adopt because everything is clear: products, pricing, and the service pipeline. There’re no complex or unusual exceptions to the rule to keep in mind. Everything is easy to manage.

The pandemic affected Saara’s career at Specsavers. Luckily, she got a new job directly at the Glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology clinic operating under Finland’s largest hospital district. At the eye clinic, her duties were similar to those she performed at Specsavers. She measured eye pressure, took digital retinal photographs, did pre-tests and prepared the patients for their doctor’s appointments.

New insights

Saara's time in public health care prompted her to recognise the potential role Specsavers could play in shaping the future of healthcare. For instance, if the transmission of retinal photographs to the public system improved, a visit to Specsavers could significantly support public health efforts. "We're consistently acquiring more OCT cameras," she notes, "this means we could capture retinal images, enabling patients from smaller towns to avoid travelling to larger city clinics solely for photography. This approach could lead to substantial cost savings in public health care and relieve patients' wallets.”

A visit to the public health system was an eye-opener in other ways as well. It helped Saara understand how things work on a larger scale. “My knowledge of eye diseases increased, which is useful for an optician. Seeing patients with special challenges also increased my professional skills,” Saara says.

Back to Specsavers

Saara found her job at the eye clinic interesting, but then an opportunity at Specsavers arose: “I liked my job at the clinic, but I just had to apply for this job.” She’s proud of her job-leap. "There aren't direct comparisons, but both involve customer service. Now I support stores instead of individual customers or patients," Saara explains. She also believes that having experienced the optical field from two distinct perspectives has been beneficial. "I've been particularly taken aback by the amount of effort required before something relatively minor is available at a store."

Her daily tasks now involve, for example, contacting the lens production facility in Hungary that produces Specsavers lenses. She also handles product launches so that orders are in place, new products are in the system, stores have all the necessary information, and everything else works when the launch happens. She also steps in when there are problems with returns or reclamations. “All returns usually go through the returns pipeline, but sometimes, an interpreter is needed, and that is usually me."

Wins and a great team spirit

In the product team, the origin of rewards closely resembles that of working as an optometrist: it's rooted in successful problem-solving. Just as solving individuals' vision problems and offering tangible assistance used to bring joy to Saara during her time as an optician, the product team derives a comparable sense of satisfaction from skillfully addressing reclamation-related issues.

Saara believes that Specsavers is an ideal choice for an employer. It's forward-thinking, consistently evolving, and full of dynamism. The distinctive business model further sets it apart: local entrepreneurs own and manage their individual stores, as well as select their own team members.

Saara works primarily at the support office, where a strong team spirit thrives and laughter and fun go hand in hand. The same spirit extends to all North European product teams. “Regular meetings with teams from other countries are great. We all get the same info and are on the same level. We can also exchange experiences. They are feel-good meetings.”

When Saara isn’t working, she likes to read, exercise, and bake. She also spends time with her partner and their dog. According to her, her secret adventurous side has taken her on many trips, including to Uzbekistan by train, for example. Another memorable trip was a trip to Tanzania as a Specsavers volunteer. “Living conditions were basic at times. It was a useful and grounding experience,” she says.

Are you interested in the future of eye health, lens products and having fun at your job? Why not read more about us or see what job openings are available right now?

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