Optometry Director Suren, shares his experience of relocating from India to the UK

After qualifying as an optometrist in India in 1997, Suren Ari Munirathnam travelled the World before coming to the UK in 2003. He knew he always wanted to explore opportunities abroad and thought the UK would be one stop of many. Little did he know he’d still be here nearly twenty years later!

Growing a career with Specsavers

Suren Ari Munirathnam Specsavers Optometrist DirectorStarting out with Specsavers Bath, he worked as an Optical Assistant while preparing for the PQE (Personal Qualifying Examinations) to gain the GOC licence to practice as an Optometrist in the UK. He stayed with Bath as an Optometrist until 2007, when his need for adventure resurfaced with a slight detour to another optical provider before dipping his toes in the locum world.

In 2021 he became Optometry Partner of Yeovil, working with Retail Partner Jason North, and soon after they were approached to take on Chard as well. Seeming a good fit, they swiftly added its directorship to their responsibility as well.

Supported to achieve

Looking back on his successful career it was not without obstacles. Suren arrived in the UK with a 6-month student visa in August to complete his professional exams that September. However, the birth of his first child the week of the exams meant he didn’t clear the exams first time round.

With the help of Phil Lodge, Retail Director at Specsavers Bath, he was able to transfer his student visa to a 2 year working visa with a role as an Optical Assistant on the condition that he pass within that time. Thankfully, that was all Suren needed and passed at the next sitting in January.

With a very young new family to support he was keen to bring them to the UK and says the Specsavers support office were amazing with helping with all the visa applications.

Relocating to the UK

Completely self-funded, it was his own choice to head to the UK and take the necessary exams. “It would’ve been lovely to have been sponsored”, he says, but he didn’t come with the intention of working for Specsavers. “I was initially over to see how things worked in the UK and then I was going to go home and assess the situation.”

Impressed with the work atmosphere and how the clinics were run, he felt he could really do justice to all that he’d learnt at university by staying in the UK. The people were so welcoming and friendly, and he’s thankful to Richard Alexander (Keynsham Retail Director), Phil Lodge (Bath Retail Director), and Rama Venkat (Burnham Optometry Director) for introducing him to Specsavers.

That’s not to say convincing his wife to move was easy! Coming from a set-up surrounded by family to being on their own in a cooler climate was quite a change. Together they looked at the education opportunities and health care available and she warmed to the idea.

Today they may not have loads of family around them, but they live in a friendly neighbourhood and have made a lot of friends in the local area and in the Asian community.

Looking back

With all the formalities achieved, Suren looks back on his experience pleasingly. He was grateful for all the support from Specsavers Bath, who helped him train for his exams in store, and for all the ongoing support of Specsavers colleagues who have helped him progress each stage of his career. He thoroughly recommends the move to other internationals looking to do the same as him.

“The professional standards are excellent, you get the support from the college, and the culture and education system are very good. Specsavers is such a well-known brand in the UK and is a great organisation to work with. It provides lots of support, as well as providing professionals with training and other opportunities.”

If you’re ready to follow Suren and find out more about working as a qualified optometrist in the UK or Ireland, share your details.

If you’re ready to follow Suren and find out more about working as a qualified optometrist in the UK or Ireland, share your details.

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