How long have you worked in optics for?I started my optics career in the early 1990s when I was living in Guernsey and joined Specsavers. I started in its audit team but very soon joined the business development team where, in the early days, I was opening new stores on almost a weekly basis. I worked for Specsavers for over 14 years in a variety of roles, developing as the company grew and new opportunities arose. My last position was as head of project management, managing the project management team and working directly with Doug and Mary Perkins in the retail brand development team.After building my career in healthcare over a number of years, I returned to optics in 2015 to take up my first managing director role with Black & Lizars, an independent optical group with 24 practices across Scotland.
Why did joining Visioncall appeal to you?
I have worked in a variety of healthcare roles, but optics has always held a special appeal for me. There’s something quite unique about domiciliary optics and the teams who work at Visioncall. It’s an arena with celebrated values and caring individuals who are focused on delivering great patient care. Seeing better allows our patients to live better.
What does your role as managing director of Visioncall entail?
I manage day-to-day operations of the UK wide business as well as providing strategic guidance and direction to the Visioncall board, ensuring we can achieve our objectives. In addition, I have a role in directing, supporting and leading the personal development of the teams within the business to both ensure we have a strong working platform on which to operate and the flexibility to respond to new business opportunities.
“I want to focus on three key factors: develop our culture of innovation, consolidating new ideas and opportunities to create a viable process and then deliver on those initiatives”
How do you intend the grow the business?
I have always been passionate about patient care and at Visioncall this is a shared value across the organisation. My primary aim is to grow the business to allow more and varied patient groups to access our person-centred services, not just those living in care homes.
Essentially, I want to focus on three key factors: develop our culture of innovation, consolidating new ideas and opportunities to create a viable process and then deliver on those initiatives. The thing that has surprised me the most about domiciliary optics is the fantastic opportunity to grow and help more people.
What are the company’s plans for the next 12 months?
Personally, I think that Visioncall is the best-kept secret in optics. People really don’t know who we are or what we do and we need to change that over the next 12 months. We need to give more exposure to our specialist skills, all the while championing ethical prescribing and realising our team values of putting the patient’s needs before commercial interests. That positioning is incredibly liberating within this industry.
Going forward, our teams will need to adopt a more strategic mindset. The role of managing director, which is newly created to lead our growth, is an excellent example of this in action today. I feel I have joined the business at such an exciting time. We are bringing to fruition the rollout of our new practice management system, IRIS, which will be truly transformative for our company.
With all this in place, we will then look to develop our joint venture partnership opportunities further. This is really important, as it will provide the key pillars of growth for us. By partnering with likeminded leaders, we have an excellent opportunity to take our business to the next level.
“People really don’t know who we are or what we do and we need to change that over the next 12 months”
What can be expected from IRIS?
IRIS is incredibly exciting and to introduce this into the business for the first time will give our teams the benefit of artificial intelligence to help us to improve scheduling. It will further support our clinical record-keeping and improve both quality and safety for our patients. IRIS is cloud-based, opening up exciting new opportunities for remote working and helping us to enhance work/life balance for our employees. IRIS will be the single most important development in our business. Did I say how excited we are about it?
What are the main challenges and opportunities in the domiciliary eye care sector at the moment?
There are many challenges, including the availability of high calibre optometrists and creating genuine work/life balance for our teams. However, we are tackling these with the introduction of flexible working opportunities and with the use of new technology.
We’ve probably already mentioned the opportunities. Taking our services to new patient groups, living our values and partnering with innovative and ambitious leaders through our joint venture partnership programme. Expect to see Visioncall making a real difference in the domiciliary eye care sector soon.