Erik got to know the optical world when he was only 16 years old: “In my first year at high school, I worked in an optical store in Skövde (a city in the south of Sweden – Ed.) during a short internship. A fun job, that involved both sales and technology. It wasn’t a profession I’d thought of before, but it fitted me like a glove – so I stayed during my time at school,” says Erik nostalgically.
“After I finished school, I started my studies to become an optician in Stockholm. My first optician job was with the Opticon chain (currently Synoptik – Ed.) in the centre of Stockholm,” Erik continues. “But not for long. After a year, I started as a regional sales manager with Essilor (a prescription lenses manufacturer – Ed.). So, all of a sudden, I sold lenses and instruments to different stores and opticians! It was an enjoyable job.”
Three years later, Erik felt it was time to leave Stockholm. He went back to where he started when he was 16 and became part-owner of the optical store in Skövde, where he completed his internship. For ten years, he worked and owned that store, bought another one with his partner and opened a brand-new one. In 2009, they sold the stores – however, Erik didn’t leave, but worked there for two more years as a business manager.
Erik: “Then I started working at Memira, a refractive surgery clinic in the Nordics. First as an optician, but I soon became regional manager and then Quality Manager for the Nordic region.” His next career step started in this same year, when he got the job title ‘Head of Professional Advancement’ for Specsavers in Sweden. One of the reasons why Erik applied for this job is Specsavers’ focus on transforming eye health. “We now offer more extensive eye examinations in our stores, so we offer primary eye care to our customers and relieve the pressure on the healthcare industry. I like that Specsavers has a clear vision of what we want to achieve with these services. It’s an interesting journey.”
“My part in this journey is leading the development of optometry within our company. Developing clinical practices and processes and making sure our optometrists keep on developing professionally. I’m also the link between Specsavers and several stakeholders in Sweden, such as the Swedish Eye Doctors Association, the optical association, schools and universities. And I’m involved in organising the Clinical Conference, every year in October, which aims to raise the level of the optometry industry.”
Erik has worked for many different employers during his varied career, so he sees how Specsavers distinguishes from others: “A big difference with my former employers is the fact that Specsavers is a global organisation. Even though my job mainly focuses on Sweden, many of my colleagues are Danes, Finns, Norwegians, Dutch and Brits – so I’m in daily contact with people from other countries, which is very exciting. Specsavers is a company where you feel very welcome instantly, so I found it easy to feel part of the team. There’s a high pace, and there are many dedicated people. Plus, the mentality ‘if there’s something we want to do, we just do it’ fits me well.”
Erik is very passionate about the role of opticians/optometrists and the clinical work they do: “I see lots of expertise in our industry that simply isn’t used. We know much more than we actually use – and that’s a shame. If I can encourage the professionals in our company to do more and further exploit their abilities – then I have succeeded.”