Working as a Retail Partner at the age of 26 – Jamie’s story

Meet Jamie Buchan – Retail Partner at Specsavers Arbroath

What was your background before joining Specsavers?
I started off aged 18 as a TV presenter for Scottish Television, before moving behind the scenes as a Sound Technician and going into films as a Video Assistant to the Director. I also spent some time as a researcher for Scottish News. After that, I went to work for the Spanish President’s audio-visual unit. During all of my
TV and film contracts, I worked for Argos and had done since I was 16.

During one of those spells, I was offered the opportunity to take a management position and my first day as a Manager at Argos was on my 21st birthday. I moved to Oban for a couple of years to run a store there before moving back to Tayside to work for Lidl.

At the age of 24, I joined Specsavers in Dundee as a Store Manager and got the call to become a Director on my 26th birthday, having gone through the Partnership programme of the day. The rest, as they say, is history.

In a nutshell, what do you do?
Hmmm, that’s a difficult question to answer. A Director’s role is not as simple as having a specific job. I have my specific duties, of course, in order to run the business on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. But my overall job is to strategically review the past and plan for the future. Planning can be anything from organising the next week through to the next 5 years, depending on the area of the business.

What does your typical day look like?
My day always starts with a coffee. I like to be in the office early to review my emails in more detail and to make a to-do list. I don’t have a typical day but more a sort of ‘format’ I follow where I allocate my time to specific points of review, conversation, analysis, action or project work, as appropriate.

A productive day is where a line gets scratched through on the to-do list! There are also specific things I do as soon as the month has ended to review performance trends and provide analysis to my Partner and management team, all in order to continue improving.

What makes you most proud of your time at Specsavers so far?
I’m proud of always getting stronger as a leader and as a business. Right now, our store has an 84% market share of Arbroath and its catchment area. We didn’t achieve that by not being great at what we do as clinicians and retailers.

How have you developed?
Personally, I have developed immeasurably. I remember my first Partner Seminar where the guest speaker was Paul McGee (The SUMO Man). I learned a formula that day that redefined my life as a leader – it was A+R=O – Action + Reaction = Outcome! Essentially, regardless of what goes on around you, if you can control your reaction, you have greater control over the outcome.

What do you love about your job? What is a challenge?
I love the variety of my job. From dealing with the customers to implementing new technology, I love it all. What I enjoy most is spending time developing my team and seeing the moment the light bulb switches on as they realise optics is their passion and career.

Describe the Scottish Specsavers culture in three words
Better never stops.

What advice would you give someone looking to join Specsavers?
Do it. In any business environment, you get to hear good stories and bad stories. Specsavers is often described as ‘The Big Green Machine’ and some people might see that as a negative. The thing about machines is that we are efficient, productive and well-oiled. Joining Specsavers may or may not currently be the end destination in your head for your career, but time spent with us will make you a stronger professional. When you get here and experience the business for yourself, you will see the unlimited potential and support the company offers for people who want to progress…and you may just redefine your career plan.

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