Case study

Dispensing optician manager — Adrian Rymer-Sanderson

Adrian studied business management in college before completing a degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing at Bradford College. He now works as a dispensing optician manager at Asda

Why did you decide on a career in retail?

I decided on a career in retail a long time ago, as I love being with people and engaging with them. In retail, you meet people from all walks of life, and I think this gives you the ability to adapt your approach in your daily routine. It also helps you understand that not everyone is like yourself and that you need to treat everyone with respect.

How did you get your job?

I used to work in a different optical practice before applying for my role within Asda. I did some locum work for Asda and this gave me an insight into what the company values were, which appealed to me. I simply had to take the leap and apply for my current role. I love a challenge, and this is exactly what was offered. I had my interview with the regional manager, who made me feel so comfortable and at ease during the whole process. The transition from my previous role into this new one was very smooth.

What kind of tasks do you carry out on a typical day?

I usually assist in dispensing spectacles and fitting. But there's so much more to the role than meets the eye. My lecturer used to say he was training us to be professional problem solvers. Patients come to me with all sorts of issues and it's my job to decide what's actually going wrong. But once you solve their problems, people think you're amazing. These people you start to build relationships with always return and ask for you personally, which is a great feeling, knowing I've made a difference is something that makes the job worthwhile.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I love that I have total autonomy with the business, as I'm left to run it myself, but I have a huge support network around me and I know I can reach out whenever I need them.

What are the challenges?

I think the biggest challenge in my job is not being able to get it right, this means you lose the trust of the customer, but luckily this is very rare.

What type of person would suit a career in retail?

I think if you're a people person or you lack the confidence to speak to people, a job in retail is for you. I used to be very shy, but working in retail made me throw myself into situations I would never have before, and this builds confidence which you can apply to life outside of work.

What are your career ambitions?

I think ultimately, I would like to progress through Asda into more senior roles. Asda have so many opportunities to progress, you wouldn't need to look outside the business, even if you want a change of career.

What is one stereotype about working in retail that you’d like to debunk?

The biggest stereotype of people working in retail is that they're unqualified and therefore it's the only job you can get. This is completely wrong. Working in retail, you have lots of colleagues, and you see these people more than your family. I've met many qualified people in retail, who have given up office jobs to work with customers as it's much more personal and engaging, which I have to agree with.

Can you talk us through two issues currently affecting your area of work?

One of the problems affecting retail is online shopping. People love the fact that they can order and receive products the following day. What they're missing out on is the personal touch. Especially in the optical area. People are buying online and having problems, but there's no one to sort them out so they come to see me, and regret buying online.

What advice can you give to others who want to work in retail?

If you're thinking of a job in retail, my biggest piece of advice would be to go for it. You'll find you make friends for life, it's a great way to build your interpersonal skills, you'll gain lots of experience dealing with people and customers, and no day is the same, which brings variety.

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