Home EssilorLuxottica Eye Care First Job Sparks Determination to Help Improve Eye Care Experience Through Operations

First Job Sparks Determination to Help Improve Eye Care Experience Through Operations

Emily Waters in black jacket and white shirt talks about her career in operations
Emily Waters; photos courtesy of Emily Waters/EssilorLuxottica

In some ways, what Emily Waters is doing today as senior director of operations at EssilorLuxottica Eye Care is similar to what she began doing as a LensCrafters store manager 15 years ago – but on a much larger scale. Waters oversees all eye care operations, including doctor operations, equipment, onboarding, and employment, for EssilorLuxottica’s North American optical retail brands (LensCrafters, For Eyes, Target Optical and Pearle Vision).

She and many of her team of 11 have also had experience managing at the store level, which keeps them in tune with the needs of practice staff and doctors to optimize the practice flow and the overall patient experience.

Emily waters with a child at a onesight mission
Emily Waters was drawn to the company’s philanthropic efforts.

Waters had no idea that when she was focused on finding her first job after college graduation, she took the first steps into what would be her rewarding career in operations with EssilorLuxottica.  “I interviewed with LensCrafters because I got my first pair of eyeglasses as a 5-year-old at a Pearle Vision, and when I got my second pair from LensCrafters, I learned about Gift of Sight, now known as OneSight. When I interviewed, my first question was whether the company still had the Gift of Sight program,” she says.

PASSION FOR THE PATIENT CARE PROCESS

Although she had no optical experience when she started, the LensCrafters team trained her, and she grew to love being a store manager. “I became immersed in optical and specialty contact lenses. I learned so much from the OD at that office and became passionate about patient care, working with the doctor to ensure that patients had a holistic experience from doctor to retail,” she says.

That goal–creating a seamless eye care experience for the patient–can be challenging. Waters saw this firsthand when she took on some field assignments working with small groups of stores. She noted the opportunity to elevate the overall patient experience by creating a meaningful transition from the doctor to the optician.

In taking on that role, Waters learned something important about herself: the delivery of eye care was her passion. She then made the career shift to operational store design and development. “I had a few career paths within EssilorLuxottica, but if the role was missing the delivery of eye care, I knew it wasn’t a great fit for me.”

COMBINING SKILLS AND PASSION

ribbon cutting at lenscrafters; as operations manager, Emily Waters attends these
At a ribbon-cutting

She did eventually find a great fit that combined her skills and passion in EssilorLuxottica’s eye care digital innovation space. “I wanted to live in a space where I could contribute to what the doctors were doing every day. In this role, I was part of the first iteration of the CONNECT platform, the EssilorLuxottica digital eye exam. And with my past experience as a store manager, I brought my practical knowledge to better understand the potential pain points of doctors, staff, and patients,” she says.

She was able to bring those operations concerns directly back to the developers and communicate the integration of digital measurements into the retail floor. She doesn’t believe that digital technology will ever replace the optometrist’s professional judgment and knowledge, “but it is a way for the OD to have a faster starting point. Even when the digital platform provides someone with the clinical data, we still need the optometrist to interpret that and develop a plan,” she says.

Teleoptometry and digital support can also help address the patient access gap. “More doctors are retiring from than entering into practice, and there are parts of the country where there are no eye doctors to serve the community. In addition, the doctors who are providing care for their patients also want to have balance in their lives. A digital platform can help. For example, there might be ODs with family who prefer seeing patients remotely during evening hours to save on expenses like daycare.

LEARNING TO LEAD

Emily Waters at the phoropter
Emily Waters appreciates that her role in operations impacts delivery of eye care.

Waters says that as leadership opportunities became available, EssilorLuxottica was integral in providing the support and encouragement to help her succeed. “EssilorLuxottica had some great women-to-women mentorship programs, and I took full advantage of those. I’ve almost always had female managers, and I didn’t realize that was rare until later in my career. So, my learning and development has come from programs, watching leadership modeled, and the available courses,” she says.

Just as she has had people pull her forward throughout her career, she looks to do the same for the many talented people she calls her colleagues. “I seek out talent rather than hope the right situation falls into my lap. I’m proud to say that the people I’ve brought on as store managers are still there or have been promoted,” she says.

Saying yes to new opportunities has been key to her expanding role. But she has learned how to say no. “I have had offers of promotions that just didn’t fit into the career path that I envisioned. It didn’t hinder my growth and development to say no to opportunities that might have diverted me from the path I chose,” she says. She retains that passion for eye care kindled at her first job as a store manager, which helps her focus on where she can make the strongest impact as she has transitioned from store leadership to operational leadership.

 

EssilorLuxottica was a platinum sponsor to the 2023 Women’s Leadership Conference hosted by Women In Optometry. Read more about that event here.

Read more stories about women with successful careers at EssilorLuxottica locations here.

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