Specsavers Partnership: End of Pathway, beginning of partnership

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Amy Thong describes her experience of the final assessment in the Pathway partnership development program, and reflects on her transition into Specsavers joint venture partnership as Dispensing Director of Specsavers Auckland CBD in New Zealand.

The final assessment for Pathway leverages the skills, experience and growth attained throughout all the modules. It reflects the significant investments that the Pathway program makes in you through the skills shared and time spent working with you to reach your goals. Ultimately, this final test, backed by a well-developed set of learnings behind you, asks – are you ready to take on a store?

My nerves were eased going into the final assessment as we were given the opportunity to practise multiple times beforehand during Module Four with the support and feedback of the Pathway team and my fellow Pathway peers. The final assessment day was divided into three parts: a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, a difficult conversation, and a presentation. The SWOT analysis was supported by the deeper insights we had gained around customer service, staff training and leadership. We were required to identify areas of improvement in a fictional store, as well as make impactful recommendations for change. The difficult conversation drew on the ‘hot stove method’, and the modules which focussed on Specsavers’ culture and brand, how to manage people and performance, and how to build high-performing teams. This was a test of our ability to lead effectively, set expectations, and encourage our staff to excel. Lastly, the presentation was a showcase of our in-store project and overall development. Really useful feedback was given at the end of each stage.

The in-store project which forms the basis of the final presentation is important to develop and work consistently on throughout the Pathway experience. More than just a test, it can be used to make a real impact in your own store as well as develop experience presenting, working with different leadership styles, and building high-performing teams. For my own project, I sought to enhance the patient experience by delivering training and implementing techniques to encourage improvements in staff interactions at each stage of the patient journey. The skills I obtained throughout the course of Pathway helped me to gain the support of my team in delivering a result that has led to high customer service ratings and boosted store revenue. These were valuable experiences that, along with other Pathway learnings and feedback, helped prepare and give me the confidence and abilities I would need to reach my goals.

After Pathway, I sought to take on a store with exciting opportunities for growth and a different set of challenges. It took approximately three to four months from when a suitable partnership opportunity had been identified to when I was opening the store doors on my first day as Dispensing Director. Over this period, I was supported by the Specsavers Partner Recruitment team who were open about the process and kept me up to date the entire time. Luck was on my side with partnership as I was able to enter into it with Renee Lim, who was part of my Pathway intake. Having the experience of Pathway helped to form a solid foundation to our relationship going forward into partnership.

We officially commenced as joint venture partners of Specsavers Auckland CBD in the beginning of August 2019 and have been using our time so far to mostly observe before making any changes in-store – however, thanks to Pathway, when we do, we know we will have the tools to do so effectively.

More in the Specsavers Partnership Blog series
JVP inspired and empowered at the Partnership Seminar
Leading self and leading change with Pathway Module One
Leading teams with Pathway Module Two
Leading commercially and coaching with Pathway Module Three
Leading great customer experiences with Pathway Module Four
End of Pathway, beginning of partnership

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