From optical assistant to store director and qualified dispensing optician. Laura tells her inspirational story.
Laura Stallerbrass was made redundant twice in six months before finding a job at her local opticians. Now she has climbed the ranks to become a dispensing optician and co-owner of the store.
After a run of bad luck in different job roles, Laura applied to be an optical assistant at Specsavers in Forfar, Scotland in 2010 and finally landing a job that she loves.
Laura has decided to share the story of how she climbed the ranks with the hope of inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.
Laura admits the idea of a career in optics was never on her radar, and she tried a diverse range of career options before finding her dream job.
As a school leaver she embarked on a music course, but six months later decided it wasn’t for her. Remembering advice from her secondary school guidance teacher she decided to try primary school teaching instead, studying at the University of Dundee for three years and achieving her degree – but again decided this wasn’t the occupation she wanted.
After landing a job as an environmental health officer she was made redundant, and her misfortune continued when she took a job in a local gym and faced redundancy once again, working as a part-time nanny to make ends meet.
But her luck was set to change dramatically after a colleague told her about a vacancy in Specsavers – and she could never have imagined the successful path it would put her on.
Despite having no experience, her transferrable skills saw her work up the ranks quickly, progressing from optical assistant to store supervisor.
Laura continued to excel in her Specsavers career, and after several more promotions, found herself as manager of the Forfar opticians. It was at that point she realised she had finally found her calling and decided to study to become a dispensing optician.
So, while continuing to work at Specsavers, she completed her second degree at Anglia Ruskin University – and in just three years was a qualified dispensing optician as well as manager.
The next obvious step for Laura was to become a director which was made possible through Specsavers ‘Pathway‘ programme, which provides the opportunity to become a joint venture partner and invest in a store.
Passing her assessments with flying colours, she is now proudly at the helm of a successful store alongside optometrist Blair Michie, and they have even had to relocate to a larger property to keep up with customer demand.
Laura says: ‘It’s sometimes hard to believe how I ended up as an optician and director of a Specsavers store as I have changed my career choice many times before I joined here.
‘It was particularly difficult being made redundant twice in six months, but in hindsight, it was meant to be, and now I am very happy that my journey has led me to Specsavers.
‘I don’t think many people are aware of the incredible career opportunities available – I certainly wasn’t. And despite having no optical experience, hard work and Specsavers’ support mean I have achieved things I never thought possible.”
Specsavers currently has a variety of roles and customer-facing and support office locations available.
Specsavers UK Managing Director Paul Marshall says: ‘By opening new and bigger stores, we will give our customers and our colleagues something to smile about and continue to make a positive difference to people’s lives through better sight and hearing.
‘More importantly, we are also creating new jobs and will be looking to recruit hundreds more opticians and audiologists in the coming months, as well as other support team colleagues, from contact lens fitters to lab technicians to optical assistants, hearing aid dispensers and retail apprentices.
‘We would love people to consider a career with us, even if it means doing something completely different to what they are used to, as we have such a broad spectrum of roles available and provide training at all levels. We always champion entrepreneurial spirit and many of our colleagues have gone on to own their own business and we now have 4,000 joint venture partners worldwide.’
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