Translating learnings from across the pond
Optometrist, Diba Choudhury, shares her experiences of living in New York while studying a Masters in Entrepreneurial Management and Business and working at the Wall Street Journal
My role as clinical development manager at Bayfield’s Opticians and Hearing Care involved a lot of business development as the optical group continued to grow and acquire stores across the UK. The behind-the-scenes aspect of running an optical business – operations, marketing, financial control, product selection and people management – are all contributing factors to its success.
While the clinical facet has been my focus all this while, this year I decided to further my academic grounding in business. With this in mind, I took a new turn and decided my continuing professional development (CPD) plan would be to start a Masters in Entrepreneurial Management and Business in New York.
The big apple of learning
New York hosts a vast number of headquarters of global multimillion-dollar businesses and is a true melting pot of all industries. Where better to be immersed in a successful business structure and managerial environment and to see how a global business operates for success, I thought.
I moved to New York in April this year. Alongside studying for my Masters, I began a full-time role at the renowned Wall Street Journal. While this is far removed from the world of optics, the culture of the business and organisational structure is one that has many parallels with optical practices.
The Wall Street Journal is one of the products of Dow Jones, a company with over 5000 employees across multiple offices all around the world. So far, team structure, staff engagement, internal communication, use of technology and media channels, and training platforms have demonstrated many ways in which effective communication takes place.
Video conferences are utilised and possible from each desktop. One-to-one meetings with managers are arranged bi-weekly to talk about everything but work, to encourage and ensure ones well-being is good.
Employee satisfaction and value seems to drive the US work ethic and the work input by employees is recognised by directors and higher management and appreciated at every level
Various workshops are hosted throughout the calendar year, which employees can sign up to or join remotely if they cannot be there in person. The importance of personal development and wellbeing is emphasised just as much as meetings about projects and your day to day work.
The investment into each person is something which is apparent and could be more applied to the optical sector. Employee satisfaction and value seems to drive the US work ethic and the work input by employees is recognised by directors and higher management and appreciated at every level.
The office environment
The other thing that I noticed is the various work stations around the office. A more comfortable and relaxed work environment allows for better productivity. Some communal high-rise desks, sound proof singular booths, standing desks or even the sofa and coffee table allows one to be as comfortable as possible. Although I don’t see how this can be applied on the shop floor, it is something that could make the environment for back office and admin staff more exciting. The multi-functional space makes coming to work something I look forward to.
Part of my role at the Wall Street Journal involves working with luxury brand adverts, so I still have some involvement in eyewear. There are many spectacles wearers around the office and when asked why, most have no prescription and just wear them to reduce the blue light absorption off the computer screens. What struck me here is how people in the US seem to take this a lot more seriously than what I have experienced with patients in the UK.
The other thing that I noticed is the various work stations around the office…Some communal high-rise desks, sound proof singular booths, standing desks or even the sofa and coffee table allows one to be as comfortable as possible
After my year is over, I hope to translate the lessons across industries and bring back new and exciting ways to improve internal communication, spearhead training plans and general wellbeing all in a bid for effective business development through the channel of motivated and satisfied staff members, always keeping in mind clinical excellence to the highest grade.
Lesson in action
While I am in New York, I am continuing with my AOP membership and registration with the General Optical Council in order to stay connected and up to date with optometry. I plan to visit SUNY College of Optometry for a tour and look out for optometry events to attend. Although it may be a bold move to pause testing and move across the pond, the experience is proving invaluable, and look forward to returning to Optometry in April 2020.