Outstanding Opticians: Olga Prenat, Education and Faculty Director EMEA at Hoya Vision Care Europe

Outstanding Opticians: Olga Prenat, Education and Faculty Director EMEA at Hoya Vision Care Europe

How did you get into optics? What made you consider it as a career, how did you train?

I’ve been in optics for 21 years, since I started my studies in France in 1996. Initially an engineering student, but during my studies, I got so inspired by how an optician treated my myopic prescription that I decided to switch and apply for optical school. After graduating as an optician in Lille, I went on to study optometry in the University Paris-Sud in Orsay in France.

I have always been a hyperactive person and as a student spent my holidays working in an optician’s store. When I gained my diploma in optometry in 2001 I was already fairly experienced as an optician thanks to this extra work.

Tell us about your career progression, where did you start, how did you get to where you are today.

My first full-time job was in a large six-floor outlet in Paris. I dispensed spectacles and contact lenses but my main specialty was low vision. In parallel, I taught optometry and low vision at University. All these experiences gave me a good affinity with the three Os: opticians, orthoptists and ophthalmologists.

In 2005, I decided to become a full-time teacher and was accepted at the Institute and Center of Optometry in Bures sur Yvette, one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in France. Two years later, I was promoted to the role of vice director, as I had ideas for developing the Institute and implementing new programmes to enhance the success of the students.

In 2010, I was appointed as the director of the Institute and Center of Optometry. My team and I achieved some excellent pass rates by implementing a new pedagogy and personalised follow-up. The most important driving force for me was to inspire students and provide teaching that would make them passionate about being dispensing opticians: how to help people see better and improve our practice. I tried to ensure all students would realise their talents, whether they be technical, scientific or commercial. We introduced a variety of topics in the programme that allowed each student to discover themselves and fall in love with the profession.

During these wonderful years I developed strong relationships with industry partners, lens makers, frame makers and contact lens manufacturers. Out of this came an opportunity to work with HOYA as director of HOYA Faculty. I wanted to embrace an international career. It was a good move and I ultimately ended up developing on these educational experiences with 26 countries as Director of the HOYA Faculty.

What makes up a typical day for you? How does your job differ to some other opticians’ jobs?

The HOYA Faculty is a European centre for continuing education for eyecare professionals: dispensing opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. In a typical week, I travel between three different countries as I still live in France, HOYA’s European office is in the Netherlands, and the Faculty itself is located in Hungary.

I remain passionate about how implementing new programmes. Industry technology is moving forward at very rapid pace – what we learned 20 years ago is often no longer valid today. At the HOYA Faculty, we help keep eye care professionals up to date with new technologies and comfortable about using them. We have the same duty as the lens maker and dispensing opticians – to provide the best possible spectacles for our patients.

There is lots of demand for education at our facilities in Budapest, which demonstrates the quality of our process. A typical training course lasts three days as we explain clinical evidence, explore the best possible technical solutions in terms of products, and facilitate opticians in how best to explain these products to patients. This is achieved via a carefully considered blend of lectures and practical workshops.

A major strength of the HOYA Faculty is our trainers, a team that gives a flavour of all the countries in which HOYA is active while also including specialists in many specific fields. In addition, we have a fine network of guest speakers.

I may no longer do the job on a daily basis, but I remain an optician who advises and trains those who do. By being in touch with colleagues from across Europe every week we learn better how to evolve our programmes, respond to current requests and anticipate future needs. You can only be innovative if you know how to anticipate.

What do you love about your role?

The international nature of my work, working with opticians from across Europe. It is so inspiring to meet people from different countries. The way we practice might be different due to historical reasons but we all do the same job and most opticians I meet share my passion for this profession. We have all made a clear choice to help others with their vision.

What I like is being in touch with people, always interacting with participants at the HOYA Faculty. We need also to stay up to date ourselves, remaining curious and always being prepared to learn.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to specialise in the same field as you?

Be passionate about you do. You work in a special field that is always evolving. Your job can never become boring as it is several fields in one – a medical part, a technical part and a commercial part. This variety of activities alone makes the work of an optician fascinating and then there is the fact that you are dealing with customers, not just sitting in an office. This is a social vocation too, which makes it very rich. So, keep your passion alive and be prepared to evolve with technology at all times.

Olga

Topic: Outstanding Opticians