“I love being an expert”

31/01 2022 - Stores

“I love being an expert”

Meri Karppanen from Specsavers Joensuu, a city in the Finnish Lakeland, is part of a team of 14 and the only optical dispenser in the store. A regular workday consists of repairs and adjustments, taking pre-measurements before eye examinations, and handing over glasses to customers. “When your work chores are varied, your mind stays alert. Often my days just fly by,” Meri says.

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Meri is also an in-store merchandiser and as such responsible for the display of products in the busy franchise. In practice, she makes sure that the right frames are in the right places and that marketing and campaign materials are on display at the correct times. Optical dispenser Meri is also a so-called ‘contact lens champion’. She ensures that enough contact lenses in the right strengths are in stock, helps other team members with contact lens-related questions, and encourages conversations about contact lenses with customers.

Endless learning

Meri ended up an optical dispenser by chance. She was studying for a degree in the travel industry when she applied for a job in the Joensuu store to have a side job. Before long, she realised she had stumbled on a field ideal to her. The best thing was that she didn’t have to apply to another school. Instead, she could train entirely in the Specsavers training programme. “The courses are comprehensive. They’re all you need.”

Four years in the Joensuu store have taught Meri a lot. Not only did the optical field and customer service become familiar but she also learned how things affect each other, especially technically. “And there’s always more to learn. It’s also great to be able to apply what you have learned in practice. You realise that yes, I have an answer to this problem,” Meri adds. Someone contemplating the same career choice shouldn’t get overwhelmed by the amount of information there is. “You have to trust that new things will find their place, little by little.”

An expert in her job

How fascinating the optics field is and how you can always learn more are the things that have surprised Meri the most in her job. The best thing, however, is the feeling of having expertise. She knows what she’s doing and believes her customers can also see that. “I’m the proudest when I understand the customer’s problem on a deeper level. When I find a good solution that makes their life easier, I feel super good.” According to Meri, a motivated person has pretty much limitless possibilities to learning through internal training programmes. “Also, optical machinery is state-of-the-art, and there is active research, so your learning is on a high level. We don’t keep it to ourselves, either. In our Clinical Conference, we spread information to anyone interested, including colleagues from other chains,” Meri adds.

optical dispenser takes pre-measurements

A strong bond with colleagues

Meri enjoys teaching new co-workers and sharing what she has learned. The store team is close and meets, sometimes, in free time. Meri remembers well when an optician who moved on to another job had his last day at the store and looked back on the good times he had had. “It was touching to realise that his time with us was special to him as well. We have a sense of community that reaches beyond the store. When you meet colleagues in seminars or training, you feel you’re part of something bigger. It makes this job even more meaningful.”

There’s an internal app for everyone within Specsavers. For the most part, it is used for news and other company messages, but sometimes also for cheerful posts from colleagues around the country. Someone can post a picture of their pet or store staff watching a game together. “During the pandemic, it has been important to be able to reach out to others in this way, especially as all events have been virtual,” Meri says.

Further studies in future

During her free time, Meri works out and meets friends. Optometrist studies have begun to interest her. “It would challenge the brain more to be able to work with the customer from start to finish and see what was best for them," Meri says. Meri’s mother wanted to be an optician when she was younger, and by chance, her daughter has now landed on the field as an optical dispenser. “I haven’t followed in their footsteps much otherwise: my father was a gymnast when he was young, and my mother danced ballet, and I can’t even do a forward roll,” Meri laughs.

Are you interested in working for a company with endless learning opportunities, a great working community and personal responsibilities? Read more about career opportunities or go and see our job openings.

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