Lisa Teri James is a Director of three Specsavers Ópticas stores on the Costa Blanca: Torrevieja, Guardamar and new store La Zenia. Judith Borland, is the Director of Specsavers Ópticas in Fuengirola, the first Specsavers’s store to open on the Costa del Sol in 2007.
They have both had different journeys to become Directors of their own successful businesses. Judith studied optometry at university, before becoming an optometrist and manager for a major optical chain in Scotland. This role lasted for six years, offering Judith the chance to become a confident clinician and learn important management skills. When she had a child, she changed role to a part time position to achieve a work-life balance which continued her career while giving her time to be a mother. Judith was offered the opportunity to start her own business with her husband, becoming Store Directors of their own Specsavers franchise in Hamilton in Scotland, which they ran successfully for ten years, before being offered the chance of bringing Specsavers to Southern Spain in 2007.
Lisa had a much less conventional journey to becoming a Director, developing her passion for optometry by accident, when she worked as a receptionist at the Cardiff University Eye Department. It then took her ten years to qualify and a huge amount of dedication, going to night school to get her A-Levels, then doing a distance learning course to qualify as a Dispensing Optician, while working full time and bringing up two young children. She then undertook an optometry degree, funding her studies and family, by working as a dispensing optician at evenings, weekends and holidays. After working for a number of high street opticians after she graduated, she moved to Spain to become a Director of her first store in Guardamar on the Costa Blanca in 2012, before taking over an existing store in Torrevieja and has just opened her third in La Zenia.
We spoke to these two inspiring women to get their advice on how other ambitious women can climb the ranks to become business leaders and if they have faced any challenges along the way because of their sex.
Have you experienced any challenges because of being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
Lisa Teri James – “Over the years I have experienced some challenges being a female optometrist and director. The assumption that the male colleague was the Optometrist and I was the receptionist has happened on a number of occasion.
I did have problems in Spain too with some male staff disrespecting me as their boss, they felt the need to go to my male business partner for confirmation of an action I requested them to do before going ahead with it. However, following several discussions with both my business partner and the staff involved we managed to overcome this and it is something I keep an eye on and may have to revisit from time to time.”
Judith Borland -“Ican honestly say that I have never been held back by being a woman. Although there have been challenges at times with the demands of having your own business and a young family, I feel that these challenges have been worthwhile and have helped me to fulfil my potential.”
What is your advice for a young woman wanting to climb the ladder and become a Manager or Director of a business?
Lisa Teri James – “Go for it! Be prepared to work hard, and fight for your equal right. Remind yourself you are equal and stand your ground on things you believe in.”
Judith Borland – “My advice for young women wanting to climb the ladder and become either a Manager or Director of a business is to seize every opportunity that you can. If you are offered an opportunity to learn more, take it. If you are offered more responsibility, carry this out to the very best of your ability. To have a successful business I believe that you also have to have a passion for what you do.”
On International Women’s Day, what would be your advice for women looking to become successful?
Lisa Teri James – “Be proud to be a woman! Be strong to be successful, work harder to overcome the antiquated stigma that women are second best. Unfortunately, chauvinism is still alive and kicking, however, the new generation of men believe in equality and therefore things are improving and more women are rising to positions of power and responsibility. If you want to, don’t let being a woman hold you back.”
Judith Borland – “On International Women’s Day, I would encourage women to consider a career in the optical industry, it is a very rewarding career and gives you options to balance work and family life. In Specsavers for example, you have the chance to work part time while having a young family or as a student, and also the opportunity to become Director of your own store, while being supported with training, development and a proven business formula to make the best of yourself and build a successful business.”
Specsavers Ópticas is part of the world’s largest privately owned optical group which has revolutionised the eyecare industry. Founded 31 years ago in the UK, it is now an International retailer with more than 1,600 stores across 10 countries and is the third largest optical group in the world. Specsavers Ópticas benefits from economies of scale and brings low cost, high quality optics to the market. Specsavers arrived in Spain 13 years ago and now has nine stores, of which seven have female directors. Specsavers is a company that promotes equality, and the path to success and is led by female Founder Dame Mary Perkins and her family.
To find out more visit specsavers.es