Of the two school options available, Saana chose to study to be an optician in Helsinki. In a larger city, there are many chains and stores, and Saana was lucky enough to practise in all the large ones. At Specsavers, she enjoyed her time the most. “Here, I felt most at home in. The atmosphere is relaxed, the product selection clear, and prices are right.”
After graduating, Saana got a full-time job at Specsavers Malmi in Helsinki. When her family began to grow, they needed more space and decided to move back to their home town, Jyväskylä. “I contacted Specsavers in Jyväskylä right away and went for an interview, and they needed an optician. I was expecting a child, so I said I’d give birth first and then I’d get back to them,” Saana laughs.
She did get back to them very soon after her daughter was born and started working right after she arrived at her new job. It was a busy day, so she examined her first pair of eyes a few minutes after she walked in. While diving into the job might be challenging to some, it all went smoothly for Saana. She already knew the ropes at Specsavers. Her working hours increased when her family situation allowed it until she worked full-time.
Saana is overjoyed to be back in Jyväskylä. The store has around ten employees, half of them are opticians. Saana thinks her colleagues are fun people, and she enjoys going to work every day. The most she enjoys solving problems for customers and seeing their satisfaction. “If a customer has a difficult problem with their eyesight that you can solve, and a year later they come by and tell you that they still see well, it feels fantastic.”
A typical workday for an optician includes eye examinations, customer service, and glass repairs and adjustments. Saana is currently following the Partner in Development programme at Specsavers. It includes studies in management, such as understanding the financial side of running a store, for example. Saana also learns how to lead both herself and her team, including managing stress and helping others solve problems on their own. Much of the training takes place in-store. “We have plenty of opportunities to study and develop further. So if you’re interested in learning and developing, you’ll probably like it best here.”
Before the Partner in Development training, Saana had already several courses under her belt, on top of her optician’s degree. She’s a contact lens optician and has studied the use of visual impairment aids. She isn’t sure yet what she’ll do after the training. The way to partnership is paved but not something she has to do. “Developing yourself and learning more feels meaningful in any case and keeps my job interesting,” Saana says.
Saana brings what she learns during training to her store and practices taking a new role amongst her colleagues. When holding a meeting, Saana also remembers what she learned from a former supervisor: A meeting should be concise and follow the agenda. It should be divided into smaller parts, and the same information should be available to everyone. That way, everyone knows the same things, and there is no chance of misunderstanding.
“When everyone knows the same things and their responsibilities, you always know who you should turn to if you need something. That way, you can relax and trust each other to do their part,” Saana adds. A relaxed atmosphere, in turn, contributes directly to the way the store colleagues treat each other and their customers. “We are, above all, a customer-oriented chain,” she adds. “Customers and their problems should be in the centre, and we should meet them without delay.” For example, if there are no free examination times available, other flexible options should be at hand to avoid customers having to wait too long.
With two small children, Saana doesn’t need to ponder how to use her free time. She and her children like to swim, and sometimes she plays badminton with her colleagues. When she was younger, she also danced ballet. “It suited me because it comprises technicality and discipline, which I think being an optician does, too.” Sometimes her family goes for a vacation in Germany, where Saana can use her linguistic skills and astonish locals with her Bavarian accent. “I don’t know what I’ll do in a few years, but because of my training, I have lots of options, and the road is open.”