Today we’re joining the celebrations for International Women’s Day.
Here at Specsavers, three of the four business categories – Domiciliary, Audiology and Newmedica – have female General Managers.
We spoke to them about their career at Specsavers and the opportunities available across the company.
Domiciliary General Manager Mel Roberts
Mel has been with the company for 11 years, and was originally employed to create a supply chain finance function. As a qualified accountant, this was an excellent fit. But, Mel explains, a career in operations was her ultimate goal and Specsavers has an ethos of looking beyond formal qualifications.
“My boss recognised my competencies and Specsavers recognise that people have transferable skills and experience. My role expanded from the UK, to Europe, then I moved into an operations role based in Hong Kong which gave me a wider perspective and was a real test of my resilience. I am enormously proud of what I achieved there. When I later took on a role with a global remit, I was able to appoint my successor in Hong Kong – I knew what it would take and knew the person I asked was the right person for the job.”
The company supported Mel throughout, and upon returning to the UK from Hong Kong, she embarked on a global supply chain operations role, a strategy and change role, before moving to her current role as Domiciliary General Manager.
In order to succeed, Mel says it’s vital to understand what you want, not necessarily job titles but the types of activity, challenge or environment that excites you and complements your strengths.
“Specsavers provided no barriers whatsoever for me. Developing our talent is hugely important to Specsavers. I am massively inquisitive and learning is very motivational for me. In fact, the only barrier I would have encountered would have been self-imposed. If I hadn’t been open about my desire and about my goals, that would be my advice.”
Newmedica General Manager Rebecca Lythe
Rebecca believes understanding what motivates you and knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie is important for advancement. She recommends taking the opportunity to do different roles early in your career; keep asking to be stretched and say yes to any opportunity which comes along.
“This way you will learn where your strengths lie and which environments help you thrive. You’ve got to know yourself. Leadership feels natural for me and I like building a mix of people around me who can complement my skills.
“A coach once told me to visualise a bus and said I should be at the front driving it, but they said I was actually sat four seats back. I often ask myself, where am I? Have I slipped to the middle of the bus? I use this image to think about many aspects of my life, and sometimes, it’s okay to be in the middle, as long as you know why.”
Audiology General Manager Carina Hummel
Carina said Specsavers had allowed her multiple opportunities. “I’ve always been given opportunities for growth and progression. During my time at Specsavers there have been really positive moves in diversity, and now three of the four General Managers are female. Twenty years is a long time to be with a company, but I don’t think I am unusual in having had a long and varied career here, and that reflects the diversity of thought you encounter across the business. The focus at Specsavers is about the skills and behaviours you can bring to the role; our culture really focuses on cultivating a feeling of belonging – there are some incredible career opportunities.”