Preparing for partnership: Shelley Wang and Ryan Gibson

Only months after Shelley Wang and Ryan Gibson became Joint Venture Partners (JVPs) of Specsavers Glenfield in New Zealand, their store expanded to accommodate increasing demand and state-of-the-art technology. Shelley and Ryan, who graduated from the Pathway and Partner in Development programs, respectively, discuss how Specsavers’ partner development programs set them up for success and rapid business growth.

Shelley Wang, Optometry Partner, on the Pathway program:
My journey with Specsavers began when I was accepted into the business’ Graduate Program in South Australia straight out of university. I later decided to return to my hometown in New Zealand, where I worked with numerous optometry practices as a locum. During this time, I saw both the good and the bad, but in my position, there was very little I could do to implement any change.

I knew, however, that I wanted to contribute more and make a difference. I wanted to develop myself and improve my leadership and interpersonal skills so that I could deliver better quality eye care to my customers, so I returned to Specsavers on a permanent basis and applied to join the Pathway program.

Over the course of the program, I stepped out of my comfort zone and was given the opportunity to apply the leadership skills I learned in a real business setting. This subsequently allowed me to observe the impact of these decisions and make changes accordingly.

Specsavers’ vision is to provide the best value eye care to everyone, simply, clearly and consistently, exceeding customer expectations every time. I learned the importance of keeping this vision in mind at all times, constantly reviewing progress towards this vision and seeking new, better ways to deliver it.

The support of my (then) sponsoring store partners, the Pathway faculty and Support Office accompanied me throughout my entire Pathway journey. Any confusion or challenges I faced were always met with extensive assistance. There were regular meetings with different teams, all of which provided me with constructive feedback and guidance. I also learned a great deal from my fellow Pathway participants, realising the true meaning of the phrase “When we are surrounded by people who believe what we believe, something remarkable happens”.

Pathway provided me with invaluable knowledge and a toolbox of resources that I have been able to apply in both my professional and personal life. It has helped me to increase my self-awareness, understand my strengths and weaknesses, and adapt myself to different situations. I am now more confident to experiment and explore new areas.

Shortly after completing the program, I was invited to become a JVP at the Glenfield store – and I haven’t looked back.

Ryan Gibson, Retail Partner, on the Partner in Development program:
My career goal had always been to own my own business, but the risks and models I had explored elsewhere had never stacked up in terms of support, fees, brand recognition and turnover.

The Specsavers Partner in Development (PID) program was different. What stood out to me from my first interview with Specsavers was that the PID program was not only designed to help candidates find success but also to prepare them for the challenges they would face.

Having had experience within the retail and hospitality industries, I stepped into my PID role with no previous optical training or knowledge. Of course, that’s what the PID program is all about – it takes experienced retailers like me and teaches us all about optics and optical retailing.

The program is designed to support in-store learning by offering classes with experienced trainers to guide you along the learning journey – and there’s lots to learn in optics that is very different to general retailing. The training modules are detailed and leave you feeling confident, knowledgeable and ready to head back to your store to put your learnings into practice.

As with all PID participants, I was assigned to a training store that would be my ‘home’ as I learned the ropes. The partners from my training store introduced me to all things optics as well as the running of the day-to-day business. The most rewarding turning point for me was when I could dispense glasses. Helping people with their most fundamental human need – their eyesight – was a great reminder of why I chose to join Specsavers in the first place.

The support throughout the program was fantastic, and led to me graduating from the course ready to take on a partnership role once the right opportunity became available.

Prior to officially joining as a JVP, I had several meetings with my Specsavers Retail Support contact and new business partner to ensure the transition into the store was smooth. I also attended the JVP Induction, a four-day introduction to life as a JVP where I met senior members from each department and gained further insight into the requirements of a JVP.

The PID journey was a rollercoaster, with many ups and downs, but the final result was well worth the effort. Taking on the challenges during my time as a PID and becoming a partner have been my most rewarding achievements to date.

If you are interested in working collaboratively with a partner to achieve shared outcomes from a business you own, then partnership with Specsavers is the right opportunity for you.