After exploding on social media for becoming a Director at 23, Georgia Eason spoke to us about her incredible success so far, her journey to this point and the reaction she received on social media.
Hi Georgia, I have to start with the amount of positive reaction you have received online since you updated everyone with your news, how does it feel?
I didn’t actually expect that sort of response and I especially didn’t expect that amount of positive response. The amount of people that have been contacting me is just ridiculous and it’s been so positive as well. I didn’t actually have many connections on LinkedIn, I think I only had about 30, so I don’t really know where it came from to be honest. But I did it as more of an update to other colleagues who I’d worked with, so yeah, I definitely wasn’t expecting the response I got.
Tell us a bit about your journey to Specsavers?
I was planning on going to University, had accepted the place, but it got to the point where I thought I didn’t know if that was the right path for me, even though all my friends were going. So, I got a place on a fashion course but chose to defer it for a year. My parents have always been pro-Apprenticeships as my brother had previously done one. So, I looked for year-long Apprenticeships but had no luck for the length of Apprenticeship I was looking for. Then, I saw the Apprenticeship at Specsavers advertised in store, it was the perfect length of time for me, which was a year, and the experience I would gain was great. I really enjoyed it, and thus decided to stay on and ended up not going to University at all.
What specifically was it about the Specsavers Apprenticeship that appealed to you?
The training seemed extensive; we were seen quite regularly with an assessor. I viewed it as setting up a clear path for myself and I also knew, as Specsavers is such a big company, that I would probably come out with a job at the end of it and it that it would be very rewarding.
You don’t regret the decision to not go to University then?
No, not really, when some people go on about the “University life” I feel a little bit like I’ve missed out on certain things, but no, not necessarily. I’ve learnt a lot and been very pro-active in this field and worked hard to get where I am. It was nice to have a little bit of money rather than student debt as well, and it’s great to be able to say I’ve got the experience of working.
What skills did the Apprenticeship give you in order to succeed?
The in-depth training throughout the Apprenticeship was key, you learnt a bit more about the ocular health, about the eye-testing itself, more dispensing knowledge, and you gain a lot more confidence as well because you have more information behind you when it comes to explaining to people why they need certain things etc., learning a bit more of the background information that I found really helpful.
Was it always your aim to become a Director one day?
I was taking it as it comes to be honest. When I first started the Apprenticeship, I wanted to build that experience up for when I would eventually go to University, but as I started to go through it, I wanted to become a Dispensing Optician.
But the career progression at Specsavers is amazing, you’ve got a lot of training courses, a lot of support behind you as well so that is definitely one of the most important things. From my Apprenticeship, I was promoted to a supervisor in the store that I was working in, which gave me a bit of a taste of the managerial side of the business, which is when I decided I wanted to go deeper into the that side of things, and I’m very lucky I’ve been able to move into that.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you since starting at Specsavers?
To be honest there’s not really anything in particular, I guess a challenge for me would be the fact that I would get quite bored if I wasn’t learning something new. I wanted to just keep developing because I am very ambitious, and I would get frustrated if I wasn’t doing as well as I wanted or if I didn’t understand something. But luckily, I was supported quite a lot to do what I wanted to do and to get through those challenges.
How have the Home visits been, given the pandemic this year?
I’ve been working on Home visits since last September and with this year in particular, with COVID, it’s been difficult. Prior to becoming Director, I was the OA, so I was helping with choosing glasses, assisting the optician etc. and because of COVID we weren’t able to go in and see patients together – it was only one person allowed to go in. This was difficult but it was a realisation for me, with the year we’ve had, you either come away from it loving the job and knowing that this is what you want to do, or that it’s not really for you, and for me it made me realise that actually I wanted to become a Director and I was going to achieve it.
How have you found the Home visits generally, do you find it intrusive at all?
Not really, I mean we’re there to do a service at the end of the day, they requested our business, they’ve requested for us to come and see them, and everybody is always really pleased to see us especially with how things are at the moment. Someone might not have seen anyone for three weeks and some of them might not have seen anyone since March, so a lot of them are quite lonely and going to see them at home, it’s really lovely. They’re comfortable in their own environment, you actually learn so much from a person just by sitting in their house, see what photos they’ve got on the wall, if they’re into any particular – hobbies and interests, which is why I find it so interesting.
What advice would you give to someone who is going down the same path as you?
Don’t knock an Apprenticeship. University isn’t the be all and end all. You can go to University whenever you like, whereas being an Apprentice and getting paid a very minimum wage for only a short period, it’s such a long-term gain. Obviously, it depends what company you go through but with Specsavers it is an amazing career ladder as soon as you get in there. The career progression is amazing, and a lot of people are progressing really well through Specsavers now because it is such a brilliant company to work for. If you are looking at an Apprenticeship, just find something that you are genuinely interested in and pour your heart and soul into it.
What are you most excited about moving forward from this point?
Everything really, I’m still learning a lot of things but I’m really excited about growing our business. We’re taking on new locations, North Yorkshire, Leeds, Selby areas, which is great, and the Home visits is such an amazing service and there are so many people we are going to be able to visit and help. Especially with the year that we have all had, I feel like it’s more important than ever to provide these amazing services to our communities.