MEET OUR IN­SPIR­ING ROLE MOD­ELS

TO CEL­E­BRATE 10 YEARS OF THE WORLDPAY EVERYWOMAN IN RE­TAIL AM­BAS­SADOR PRO­GRAMME, WE TALK TO TWO WIN­NERS TO FIND OUT WHAT MAKES A GREAT ROLE MODEL

Woman & Home - - Contents -

WOMEN IN RE­TAIL WHO MAKE AN IM­PACT

‘I hope I in­spire other women in busi­ness’

“THE ACHIEVE­MENTS OF THE NOM­I­NEES FOR THE WORLDPAY EVERYWOMAN RE­TAIL AM­BAS­SADOR PRO­GRAMME ARE TRULY IN­SPIR­ING,” SAYS W&H ED­I­TO­RIAL DI­REC­TOR SUE JAMES, WHO JOINS THE PANEL OF JUDGES FOR THE FIFTH YEAR THAT W&H HAS SUP­PORTED THE PRO­GRAMME. EVERYWOMAN, THE NET­WORK FOR WOMEN IN BUSI­NESS, WAS FOUNDED BY MAXINE BENSON MBE AND KAREN GILL MBE. MAXINE SAYS: “THIS YEAR WE ARE FO­CUS­ING ON SUC­CESS­FUL ROLE MOD­ELS FOR WOMEN IN ALL AR­EAS OF RE­TAIL.” LEIGH NEL­SON IS STORE DI­REC­TOR AND DISPENSING OPTICIAN AT SPECSAVERS NEWTOWNARDS IN NORTH­ERN IRE­LAND AND LAST YEAR WAS NAMED AS THE 2016 WORLDPAY EVERYWOMAN IN RE­TAIL AM­BAS­SADOR OF THE YEAR AF­TER REACH­ING A SALES TAR­GET OF £1.2M. LEIGH IS MAR­RIED WITH TWO SONS.

WHEN I JOINED SPECSAVERS 17 YEARS AGO,

I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD BE­COME A

RE­TAIL DI­REC­TOR, PRES­I­DENT OF MY LO­CAL CHAM­BER OF TRADE AND, THE REAL ACCOLADE, THE WORLDPAY EVERYWOMAN IN RE­TAIL AM­BAS­SADOR OF THE YEAR.

I AIM TO IN­SPIRE OTHER WOMEN IN RE­TAIL AND MY OWN ROLE MODEL IS DAME MARY PERKINS, WHO TO­GETHER WITH HER HUS­BAND CO-FOUNDED SPECSAVERS. SHE SHOWED ME THAT YOU COULD BE A SUC­CESS IN BUSI­NESS AND STILL HAVE A LIFE AND FAM­ILY.

I EN­JOYED MY JOB AT SPECSAVERS SO MUCH THAT IT DIDN’T FEEL LIKE WORK. I PRO­GRESSED TO BE­COME RE­TAIL DI­REC­TOR AND STARTED A NEW BRANCH OF SPECSAVERS. WITH A FREE HAND TO IM­PLE­MENT MY OWN IDEAS, I WANTED TO MAKE IT VERY MUCH A LO­CAL STORE WHERE WE KNEW ALL THE CUS­TOMERS. I DID THIS THROUGH EM­PLOY­ING STAFF WITH GREAT PEO­PLE SKILLS. FOR EX­AM­PLE, MY MAN­AGER USED TO WORK IN THE LO­CAL PUB AND WAS AL­READY ON FIRST-NAME TERMS WITH MANY CUS­TOMERS!

WHEN I STARTED WORK­ING IN SPECSAVERS,

I DIDN’T HAVE ANY OP­TI­CAL QUAL­I­FI­CA­TIONS, SO I ENROLLED FOR A DIS­TANCE LEARN­ING COURSE TO BE­COME A FEL­LOW OF THE AS­SO­CI­A­TION OF THE BRI­TISH DISPENSING OPTICIANS. I WAS PREG­NANT AT THAT TIME BUT DUR­ING MY MA­TER­NITY LEAVE I COULDN’T STAY AWAY FROM THE BUSI­NESS AND ENDED UP DO­ING THE PAYROLL! MY HUS­BAND DAVID, WHO WAS WORK­ING AS AN EN­GI­NEER AT THE TIME, WAS VERY SUP­PORT­IVE OF MY PART­NER­SHIP AND NINE YEARS AGO, HE RE­TRAINED TO BE­COME THE LAB MAN­AGER IN MY PRAC­TICE.

MY EL­DEST SON WAS GIVEN AN AUTISTIC DI­AG­NO­SIS AT THE SAME TIME I FOUND OUT I WAS PREG­NANT AGAIN. THANKS TO MY SUP­PORT­IVE TEAM AT SPECSAVERS, WHO RAISED MONEY FOR US, WE MAN­AGED TO COM­PLETE A SPEECH AND EYE CON­TACT PRO­GRAMME CALLED SON-RISE WITH ADAM WHEN HE WAS LIT­TLE, WHICH RE­ALLY HELPED HIS DE­VEL­OP­MENT. NOW THE STORE IS

ABLE TO OF­FER A SER­VICE DE­SIGNED FOR CHIL­DREN WITH SPE­CIAL NEEDS.

MY TEAM HAS GONE FROM FOUR TO 21, SO THE NEXT STEP IS MOV­ING TO BIG­GER PREMISES. I ALSO WANT TO ES­TAB­LISH A HEAR­ING CEN­TRE WITHIN THE

STORE. BE­ING NAMED RE­TAIL AM­BAS­SADOR OF THE YEAR WAS A TREMEN­DOUS ACCOLADE AND WHEN I RE­TURNED FROM THE CER­E­MONY I FOUND THE TEAM HAD DEC­O­RATED THE

STORE TO WEL­COME ME BACK!

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