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HomemiprofessionTaking Ownership In Regional Australia

Taking Ownership In Regional Australia

Owning a practice was always part of Shahmani Kentler’s plan. Moving to Tasmania to do so was not. The rewards have been surprising.

From a young age I knew I wanted a professional career in the healthcare sector, however I also dreamed of running my own business.

finding optometrists who are willing to work regionally has been most difficult, despite the amazing array of opportunities available

After I graduated in optometry from the University of Melbourne in 2013, I was blessed to gain a graduate optometrist position at Specsavers Knox, one of the busiest practices in the Specsavers network, with four test rooms operating daily. My store directors mentored me through my first two years in the graduate program, and continued to support me when I undertook the Specsavers Pathway program two years later. The Pathway program is an intensive development program that helped me achieve my dream of becoming a Specsavers joint venture partner (JVP).

Owning my own business really appealed to me, especially within the Specsavers model, which I recognised as established and proven. I also shared Specsavers’ vision and values, and knew this company was one that I had to be a part of – not only as a full time optometrist. I wanted to lead my own team, to offer the balance of amazing patient care at an affordable price, and to create a happy environment. I was inspired by my store directors at Knox and also my parents, all successful business owners, whose hard work and care have paid off both in business and in personal growth.

As a Melbourne girl, I never dreamed that I would leave my beautiful city, let alone leave it for the regional township of Devonport, Tasmania. However, this was where the opportunity arose, and so I packed up my life and moved across the Bass Strait with my husband to join Anafa, my wonderful business partner and fellow Specsavers JVP.

Well – challenge was what we wanted and challenge was what we received! Firstly, being ‘city people’, we experienced a huge shift in our lifestyles. Quickly however, we have come to love and value our new lives in Devonport and certainly appreciate our healthier lifestyles from all the amazing hiking we fill our spare time with!

While operating a business is challenging, finding optometrists who are willing to work regionally has been most difficult, despite the amazing array of opportunities available. We have been advertising for a full time optometrist to become a permanent member of our work family for one year!

To meet the demand for great value eye care in the area, our store needs two test rooms operating full time. Currently, to keep things going, I rely on my wonderful, trusty team of locums. While this arrangement works well, it does mean we have varied styles across the practice. Over the next year, we have a few groups of students coming to us on placement, which will also help. In the meantime, we continue to advertise and hope that one day soon we will find an optometrist who like me, wants to call Devonport home.

Another area I have found challenging is leading, especially when most of the team are similar in age or older than me. Naturally we are still learning and will make mistakes as we continue to build on our experience. Fortunately, we have a great team to count on, who show their two young directors respect beyond anything we could have hoped for, and give us constructive feedback. We also have the assistance of Specsavers’ support office, which has been invaluable.

Moving into the future, I look forward to growing my business alongside Anafa. We aim to continue to provide value eye care and legendary service to everyone who walks through our door. And we will strive to keep up our community involvement, as we want become known as a ‘local business’. Beyond the business, I hope never to lose my passion for providing the best level of eye care to each patient I see.

Shahmani Kentler graduated in optometry from the University of Melbourne in 2013 and is a Specsavers joint venture partner. Her practice is in Devonport, Tasmania. 

Photo courtesy of Louis Creative Studio.