Continuing its trend of record numbers, Specsavers Australia & New Zealand recently hosted its largest annual Pathway graduation function, with almost 50 more optical professionals now ready to lead their own Specsavers store.
On the evening of 3 May, 46 optometrists and senior retail team members – 37 from across Australia and 9 from New Zealand – celebrated their graduation from Pathway, Specsavers’ partnership development program.
The graduation event was held at the RACV City Club in Melbourne, and the Pathway graduates were accompanied by the Pathway faculty and Retail Support team members who had supported the participants throughout their journey.
After socialising over drinks and canapés, the attendees sat down to enjoy a two-course meal. The formalities kicked off with an opening address from Specsavers Head of Professional Recruitment Raj Sundarjee, who congratulated the Pathway graduates on their hard work. Pathway Program Lead Kimberley Hannan and Partner Engagement Training Manager Jared Roussety then called each participant to the stage to accept their certificates of completion before announcing the evening’s surprise entertainment: a performance by magician Dom Chambers. After mystifying the audience with a series of interactive, on-stage illusions, Dom continued to wow the graduates as they took to the dancefloor, surprising and delighting the dancing crowd with his roaming magic tricks.
Measure of success
The 2019 Pathway graduation function was the largest the business had ever held, with 16 more people graduating compared to 2018. Kimberley attributed the 53% year-on-year lift in Pathway graduate numbers to increasing demand and interest in practice ownership.
“To accommodate this interest, we decided to take on more Pathway participants this year,” she said. “Our dedicated Pathway faculty, who focus solely on developing the program, are also continually assessing and improving the effectiveness of the program based on participant feedback and to adapt to changes in the optical retail landscape, meaning the program gets better every year. As a result of these combined factors, we have enabled more optical partners to fulfil their dreams of business ownership this year than ever before.”
Of the 2019 graduating cohort, 15 Pathway graduates are already operating as Specsavers store partners, including one who is now leading the new Specsavers Echuca store. Another 11 are set to move into partnership roles over the coming months, including two who will head up two new stores that will launch later this year. The remaining Pathway graduates are now engaged in Specsavers’ new Pathway Plus program, which allows them to learn additional advanced leadership and business management skills as they prepare to transition into future Joint Venture Partnership roles.
Pathway is an intensive six-month program that prepares experienced optometrists, optical dispensers and retail managers for practice ownership. The structured program adds critical business management and development skills to the candidates’ existing clinical, dispensing or retail skills, setting up the future store owners for success.