Helen Elliott’s Specsavers career began as an Optical Assistant. Nine years and an audiology degree later, Helen’s now the new Audiology Partner at Specsavers Washington Sainsbury’s, running her own business and delivering life-changing hearing care for her North East community
When did you start your career at Specsavers, Helen?
It was on 7 October 2012, to be exact, when I started my job as an Optical Assistant at the store in Washington. I’d been working in a hardware store but I was looking for something new. One day I saw a notice in Specsavers’ window advertising the job so I went in to find out more and my Specsavers journey began!
And now you’re an Audiology Partner, running your own Specsavers business. How did that happen?
The beauty of Specsavers is that you can switch roles, retrain, find out what it is that you want to do within the business. I was really interested in audiology, so I was encouraged to do the Hearing Care Assistant (HCA) course, and I knew I’d found what I really wanted to do. I moved to the Sunderland store to work as a full-time HCA, loved it and really wanted to progress in audiology, so I completed the hearing aid audiology degree – part-time and distance learning with Anglia Ruskin University – while working in Sunderland. As a qualified Hearing Aid Dispenser (HAD), I’ve now just come back to Washington, where my Specsavers career began, as the store’s new Audiology Partner.
Why is audiology such a great career?
You’re changing people’s lives, it’s as simple as that, and not just the person who has a problem with their hearing but those close to them, too. I remember helping one gentleman who communicated with his daughter via video call after she’d moved to Australia. They’d have a call every Sunday morning, sit together, thousands of miles apart, and chat and do the crossword together. But he said it was getting to the point where he was really struggling with his hearing, he couldn’t really hear her, and he was terrified of losing that connection with his daughter.
We did a hearing test, fitted him with hearing aids as an NHS patient. He came back a fortnight later for a check-up and he couldn’t believe the difference they’d made. He could hear his daughter properly again. It meant the world to him. And to me.
We have lots of exciting opportunities in Audiology. And like Helen, you’ll get fantastic support to progress your career. Share your details and we’ll be in touch to tell you more
You’ve just started your new role as Audiology Partner. What are you looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to building the business and growing the team. At the moment, it’s just me as the Hearing Aid Dispenser, but I’ll soon be looking to build a small team, starting with taking on a Hearing Care Assistant. The main thing is to grow the business to provide quality hearing care for even more people in my community.
The Partnership training from Specsavers has been superb. As a Hearing Aid Dispenser, you wear so many hats anyway – you’re a clinician, a counsellor and many other things – but the Partnership training prepares you for all the additional things you need to cover when you’re running your business. And I know there’s incredible support from Specsavers whenever I need it.
What do you like most about working at Specsavers?
It’s the support network, it’s like one big family. There’s always somebody you can contact if you need help or guidance with anything, in your store, other stores, support teams, wherever. I’m working closely with my fellow Partners at the store, and there’s a huge wider support network across Specsavers. You’re never on your own!
How has Specsavers helped you to progress your career?
The support from Specsavers, at all levels, has been fantastic over the years. When I decided I wanted to be a Hearing Aid Dispenser, I was encouraged to go for it and get trained, likewise when I wanted to become a Partner and run my own business. I’m now excited for my daughter, who’s just finished an Optical Assistant apprenticeship in the same store I’m in, so it’s wonderful to see her at the start of her Specsavers journey!
In all honesty, I didn’t see myself being in this position ever, with a degree and now running my own business. If I go back to the beginning of my Specsavers career, I was a young parent with young children, I’d always worked but they all were always just ‘jobs’, you know? But when I joined Specsavers, I saw the progression that was possible within the company, and the amazing support for people. For the first time, I thought I could have a career, and I’ve been supported and encouraged every step of the way by Specsavers.