From refugee camp to Employee of the Year at Specsavers

04/03 2024 - Support office

From refugee camp to Employee of the Year at Specsavers

Deni Aminy fled Iran with his wife and 6-month-old daughter. A few years later, he became an optical dispenser and was named the “Employee of the Year 2022” in Norway.

Deni Aminy is a store employee at Specsavers in Gjøvik. Nine years ago, he embarked on a dramatic journey from Iran along with his wife and their six-month-old daughter. Back then, it was about saving themselves and their family from a totalitarian regime. Little did Deni know then that he’d end up with a permanent job in an optician's shop and a diploma on the wall that said, "Employee of the Year at Specsavers 2022-"

It wasn't an easy decision, but 31-year-old Deni felt he had no choice but to burn all the bridges and leave Iran for good. The conservative clergy in the country threatened the family's existence.

The Promised Land

The refugee camp at Hov in Søndre Land (Hov is the administrative centre of Søndre Land Municipality in Innlandet county, Norway) was the first meeting with the promised land. Deni applied for political refugee status, but the Norwegian authorities declined. There were several rounds of lawsuits and appeals. It took four years before the family could finally feel safe with permission to stay in Norway. While they waited, they underwent training in the Norwegian language and culture, but they felt like prisoners. Deni's description of the mental state while they were waiting. “You don't feel like a human being.”

Finally allowed to work

After a few years, Deni and his family were finally able to begin the new life they had longed for. They were now free and had the opportunity to work and support themselves. Deni first got a job as an installer in an industrial company at Raufoss. Not completely satisfied, he was searching the Internet and looking for something that was better suited for him. Two optician chains were looking for store employees, and Deni initially took on a part-time position at both. However, within just a month, both chains offered him a full-time position. Deni, without hesitation, chose to work at Specsavers, stating, "It was an easy decision for me; I preferred to work at Specsavers,” Deni says.

Why Specsavers?

Deni chose Specsavers because it consistently had a high volume of customers, creating a bustling environment. He appreciated the positive working atmosphere. In addition to this, the busy days at Specsavers provided him with valuable learning opportunities. Deni became skilled in using the Oct machine, taking photos, and measuring eye pressure for customers. He expressed his satisfaction and pride in his accomplishments, saying, "I'm very happy and proud of how much I've learned, and I'm pleased that my bosses, Holgeir and Kari, are satisfied with my performance." Holgeir Klausen and Kari Bakken are the business owners who run the store at Gjøvik.

Employee of the year

What was it like to be named Employee of the Year? “It was amazing,” he says. “Holgeir had told me I had to come to the event in Oslo, but it was a very busy day, so I didn't really have time. But Holgeir insisted and said I had to come. My wife was at work, and I couldn’t leave until she was done. I couldn't leave the kids alone.”

“When I got to the hotel in Oslo, I didn't understand anything. My name was on the board. I was shocked. I really enjoyed it and was very proud,” Deni says.

The "Employee of the Year" award is presented to an individual who demonstrates exceptional positivity, serves as a role model for colleagues, and consistently delivers outstanding customer service. Additionally, the recipient must achieve high scores in various training activities.

The way forward

“I enjoy my job. We are a good team and have a very good working environment, so for now, I just want to work here and get better at what I do. I still have a lot to learn,” Deni says when we ask him about his future career plans. Store owners Holgeir and Kare find comfort in knowing that this year's employee in Norway, Deni, will continue to deliver excellent customer service to the people of Gjøvik.

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