Soon to be celebrating 21 years since starting with Specsavers, Carina Hummel is now Audiology General Manager, responsible for UK & Ireland Audiology Business, and to celebrate World Hearing Day, we spoke to her about her career.
“I was looking for a gap year job and saw an advert in my local paper about two weeks after I had my eye test in the local Specsavers store. I thought they all seemed like nice people and I would like to work with them. I got the job and started in the Andover store as an optical assistant in December 2000.”
Although she thought it might be just a gap year role, after a year Carina was enjoying working with the team and the job so much that when the store director discussed training as a dispensing optician she decided to go for it.
“I worked several roles during my time in store and became the in-store trainer, then one day saw an advert on the company intranet to join the support office as a training manager.”
That role required writing training materials and delivering regional training.
“Then I became a Retail Performance Consultant in 2009, supporting our Partners in the London region. I worked for six years in London, working in three roles during that time, becoming the Divisional Relationship Manager. I then made the move to audiology as Head of Retail in 2016.
“It was really broadening my experience, I hadn’t ever worked in that part of the business before [audiology] it was a new role and an opportunity to set up a new team of audiology Project Managers.”
Specsavers provided coaching and mentoring throughout the role changes, also placing her within an internal High Potential Development Programme, and the Oxford Saïd Business School [of business, management and finance] Retail Summer School during those years.
Following a 14 month sabbatical, Carina returned to Specsavers in January 2019 as Director of Trading. Then re-joined Audiology in June 2019 as Director of Operations, before being offered the role of Audiology General Manager in January last year.
Working in audiology is a real passion for Carina, with statistics showing that only 2m. of the estimated 6.7m. people in the UK who could benefit from wearing hearing aids actually do.
“We have an aging population and not everyone is choosing to deal with their hearing loss – and yet we know that one in three people will eventually experience disabling hearing loss. I and my team feel passionately about helping people. In my work and personal life, I want to do things which add value to people’s lives – and audiology definitely does. Each new clinic we create, each audiologist we train, that is helping more people.”
Transparency of pricing, working closely with the NHS to provide hearing services within people’s communities to avoid the need of going to hospital makes Carina very proud of the work the audiology partners do each day, especially seeing that continue during lockdown.
“I am so proud of what our team, our partners have achieved in the last 12 months – we stayed open for care to provide those essential services. It was hard but totally worthwhile.”
Looking back on her two decades of service within the company, Carina says it is the perspective of the business toward its employees which has allowed the progression she has achieved.
“I often look back and think “how did this happen”, I absolutely did not see myself in a role like this when I started at Specsavers. But I don’t think that my story of a long and varied career within Specsavers is that unusual. They have a great diversity of thought within the business, they focus on the skills and behaviours you can bring to a role. I have had some brilliant career opportunities and am looking forward to the next 12 months and beyond – we have some really exciting plans.”