“Only change is permanent”

24/03 2022 - Support office

“Only change is permanent”

Specsavers’ support office in Finland, located next to the airport in Vantaa, is the base of around twenty professionals of various fields, all working to keep the wheels of the country organisation spinning. One of them is a member of the five-person retail unit, Retail Support Manager Heli Pakarinen. Her long-standing career at Specsavers consists of several roles and phases. “In my career, I am the proudest of having had the courage to reinvent myself,” Heli says.

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Heli’s career at Specsavers began, like many others, by chance. As a child, Heli wanted to become a doctor. In young adulthood, however, optometry started to pique her interest, and it became her field of study. After graduating, Heli first worked as an optometrist for different chains but later acquired her own store in Helsinki. When Specsavers landed in Finland in the mid-2000s, the store, which originally belonged to another chain, became part of the Specsavers family.

Heli enjoyed being a partner. After a few years, however, life situations changed, and entrepreneurship was no longer the best option for Heli and her family, and she sold the store.

A new role in the family

Selling her store didn’t mean the end of Heli’s career at Specsavers. First, Heli helped with opening a new store. Then a job opening at the support office became available and Heli applied. She was selected and became a trainer. At Specsavers, training has particular importance and is constantly ongoing. “Learning something new can be tough, but it’s also the icing on the cake. It keeps you moving and motivated,” Heli says.

In her new job, Heli held both classroom and in-store trainings on different subjects. To make the transition to her new role possible, she had to keep learning herself also. “In my career, I am the proudest for having had the courage to first become a partner, then a trainer, and finally a retail support manager. I also feel I’ve succeeded in all my roles. With Specsavers, change is permanent, and keeping up with it requires the right attitude,” Heli says.

Constant change is for good

After she had trained Specsavers’ employees a few years, Heli applied for her current job as a Retail Support Manager. In practice, she provides support to partners in Western Finland. It’s a large area that stretches along the entire west coast from Turku to Rovaniemi in Lapland. The job involves lots of travelling and is time-consuming, but meeting the partners more than makes up for it, Heli says. “The best thing is working with a partner and finding a solution that not only serves the partner’s business goals but also Specsavers’ goals.”

A long and versatile career path has been useful in this aspect: “My time at the support office has allowed me to see the bigger picture and understand how the smaller parts fit in and what effect they have on the result,” Heli says. The small parts can be store refurbishings, thorough analyses of the marketing plan, or other large or small details. The important thing is moving in the right direction.

International trail-blazer

All support office involvement is usually the result of the combined effort of several teams. According to Heli, that’s also one of the best things about her job. Her colleagues are not only top people, but also top experts and the collaboration is rewarding. “Specsavers is a trail-blazer not only in technical solutions but also in business design. All business areas are properly thought out,” Heli says.

Specsavers is also a characteristically international company. Heli’s job involves some international travelling, which in recent times has understandably been on hold. This Heli finds a good thing, as the situation has demonstrated that not all things need to be handled on-site. “Working for a multi-national company is a blessing. When I talk with my colleagues in other countries, I often find that we have similar challenges. Not only is it comforting, but the solutions we find to them may also be very different in different countries. The chance to learn something new and find answers outside of your bubble is great.”

There have also been some surprises. “As a partner, I didn’t always understand how many things were decided on a multi-national level,” Heli says. In some cases, local adjustments to international practices had to be made. “The customer journey, for example, is fine-tuned, but some things simply don’t fit the Finnish culture, so we’ve changed them to suit us better.”

Opportunities and comradeship

The fact that Specsavers is a multi-national company can also bring along a chance to work in other countries. One former Finnish support office employee now works for Specsavers in New Zealand. Heli has also made some longer trips, once to Australia, the memory of which has stayed with her. “We get great opportunities sometimes!”

The comradeship with both domestic and international colleagues feels great, Heli describes. “But also the partners I meet are wonderful people. We may not always see eye-to-eye over things, but there are never any hard feelings”.

In her free time, Heli likes to exercise, hike and winter swim. In summer, she loves gardening. “Tending my garden is a passion that provides complete relaxation. You can’t always put a stop to your thoughts after a workday but dipping your fingers in the soil helps,” she says.

Do you also want to keep the wheels of the Specsavers family spinning? Learn more about our support office and see what job openings are available right now!

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