Specsavers Retail Director inspires colleagues to fulfil their potential

A SPECSAVERS retail director is encouraging fellow colleagues to fulfil their potential, as the Swiss Cottage store celebrates female leadership to mark International Women’s Day [Monday 8 March].

Sheena Shah first joined Specsavers as a graduate in 2003. She has never looked back since and over the course of her 18-year career at the high-street retailer, she has been inspired to rise through the ranks.

Having graduated from Anglia Ruskin University with a BSc (Hons) in Optical Management, Sheena joined Specsavers Harrow as a pre-registration dispensing optician where she completed her training and professional development. During the course of the 10 years that Sheena worked at Specsavers Harrow, she continued to thrive under the guidance and leadership of its two directors. Here, Sheena learned about employee and store management, and continued to progress her ophthalmic career by studying to become a fully qualified contact lens optician.

In 2013, Sheena was offered the opportunity to join the Specsavers Lakeside store as a dispensing manager. With a team of 40, this in itself presented a great career step from her previous role, with Sheena responsible for managing the clinical team, while Omer Dar, retail manager, was responsible for the customer service team.

During the 18 months that Sheena worked at Specsavers Lakeside, a role that she found hugely challenging yet rewarding, she realised how much she enjoys training, mentoring, developing her team, and inspiring them to progress their careers. ‘Specsavers as a company, offers clear career pathways to enable all colleagues to fulfil their career aspirations, which is something I am fully committed to,’ Sheena says.

During her career at Specsavers Lakeside, Sheena was very much inspired and supported by mentors Jaymini Visrolia, retail director, and Shakeel Hirani, ophthalmic director. While at Lakeside, she really learned the ropes for running a business and managing a team.

Specsavers Lakeside was a catalyst for her to become a store director, where she could be involved in shaping the business and the team. As a company, Specsavers is proud of its unique joint venture partnership business model. Each store is part-owned and managed by its own directors, who are shareholders of their own businesses, but who are supported by key specialists in support offices, who provide a range of services, such as marketing, accounting, IT and wholesaling. So in 2016, Sheena had the opportunity to join Specsavers Swiss Cottage as their retail director.

‘I love Specsavers as a company, and what it stands for as a family business, along with the career opportunities available for all colleagues across the different areas of the organisation.’

In February, Sheena celebrated five years at Specsavers Swiss Cottage where she manages a team of eight, in partnership with co-director optometrist, Rishi Ganatra. Inspired by her early career at Specsavers Harrow under the leadership of Unhar Gupta, optometrist director and Derek Temper, retail director, Sheena herself has a passion for training and leading from the top, and therefore she is very keen to encourage all store colleagues to explore the opportunities offered via the Specsavers career pathway, so they too can fulfil their potential.
As a result of this encouragement, the majority of the store’s team are currently undertaking some form of career training, including one employee who recently qualified as a pre-registration optometrist, a further colleague who is in training, with three other members of the team taking part in apprenticeship programmes to become optical assistants. The store also has a Saturday assistant who is currently learning the day-to-day aspects of working in a retail environment. Sheena comments: ‘I love what I do and I really want to make a difference to other people’s lives and to mentor my team, so that they can fulfil their potential.’
In November 2019 Sheena was appointed as the Specsavers Central London Regional Chair, a role that represents the Central London Specsavers store partners, eliciting any issues from across the region and feeding these back across the region. The role also involves working closely with the Specsavers support office in Guernsey, Channel Islands.

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