Meet Pauline Wellstead Ophthalmic Director at Hexham
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m 35 years old and I am the ophthalmic director at Specsavers in Hexham.
What attracted you to a career in optics?
I was always interested in pursuing a medical profession, however my phobia of blood ruled out most options! I started working at Specsavers Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland when I was studying at university, working Saturdays and holidays. With my interest in medicine and my practical experience of optics it was a natural progression to follow this career path.
How did you come to run a Specavers store?
My career with Specsavers really began sixteen years ago when I started my weekend and holiday work, although at the time I didn’t know that.
With support and training I steadily progressed and in 2009 I took over Specsavers Hexham as ophthalmic director.
Where did you study?
I studied at The University of Ulster in Coleraine close to the Giant's Causeway World Heritage Site. Specsavers Hexham is situated close to Hadrian’s Wall, another World Heritage site, so I have been blessed to study and work in such amazing locations.
What is the best part of your role?
At Specsavers we have an excellent development pathway and there are opportunities for everyone for advance to any level they aim to reach. It is possible for an apprentice to follow our structured pathway and become a fully qualified optometrist within seven years.
It is important to me to ensure my team has the same opportunities. I am especially keen on encouraging my staff and trainees to be the best they can be. For example, I have mentored three optometrists through their Pre-Registration year after which they become a fully qualified optometrist.
Is there an interesting fact people might not know about you?
I enjoy running and have completed the Great North Run three times to raise funds for RNIB and Vision Aid Overseas. I have also been to Ghana with Vision Aid where I helped train new optometrists. This was overwhelmingly rewarding and an experience I will never forget.