Specsavers names new leads in professional development

Judy Lea has been appointed head of optometry development, while Neil Retallic has become head of professional development

Judy Lea

Specsavers has made a series of leadership appointments, naming new heads for professional and educational development.

Judy Lea (pictured above) has become Specsavers’ new head of optometry development.

Lea brings more than three decades of optometry experience to the role, through which she will lead Specsavers’ pre-registration programme.

Lea is a College of Optometrists’ assessor and examiner. She started her career in 1987 as an optometrist before becoming a practice manager, and later an optometry partner at Specsavers. She also worked at Royal Stoke University Hospital part-time as a specialist optometrist, before moving into professional support and clinical training roles.

Commenting on her new role, Lea said: “I want to help the next generation of optometrists by supporting them to work better with patients and colleagues to become better clinicians.”

Describing the pre-registration programme as providing the “groundwork to have a successful career as an optometrist,” Lea said: “I always talk to them at the start of the pre-registration course, saying: ‘It’s a bit like you’ve come out of university with a box full of jigsaw pieces, you’ve got 1000 pieces. You’ve got all that knowledge and all that theory. You’ve now got to work out how it all fits together and for each individual patient.’ That’s what we get them doing on the courses.”

The role will involve liaising with universities around employer requirements when it comes to graduates.

Lea will also author continuing professional development materials, present and assess, and will be tasked with professional development beyond pre-registration.

Neil Retallic
Specsavers also appointed Neil Retallic as its new head of professional development.

Retallic is currently serving as the president of the British Contact Lens Association, as well as being a College of Optometrists examiner and assessor, and a member of the General Optical Council’s Education and Standards committee.

He moved to the position from his most recent role as global professional services manager at Menicon, and previously held professional services roles at Vision Express and CooperVision, and was a former council member of the College of Optometrists.

Retallic commented: “I love to be involved in educational development and help other people. To be able to do this at Specsavers is fantastic, with its already amazing community, support, data, and opportunities.”

“I’m looking forward to working with colleagues to build on this strong base for the benefit of colleagues, patients, and the wider sector,” he added.

Grant Duncan, Specsavers director of professional services, said of the appointment: “Neil is a well-known and respected member of our sector, and his appointment is all about making our clinicians the best they can be to support our vision of changing lives through better sight and hearing.”

Retallic will be involved in supporting clinicians to achieve higher qualifications, and will also be involved in delivering Specsavers’ Beyond the Graduate programme.

The new programme is being developed to support newly-qualified optometrists in the early years of their careers and in moving towards further professional qualifications.

“We are all incredibly excited to have Neil join our talented professional development team,” Duncan added.