Heather Campbell

Sales and Marketing Coordinator
QSpex Technologies, Inc.
Alpharetta, Georgia

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“She’s admired for her fortitude, make-it-happen attitude, and willingness to jump in with two feet.”

When Heather Campbell heard about a job at Briot through a friend of her sister, she’d had no exposure to optometry. “I was amazed at the lens finishing process. I had no idea what went on behind the scenes in making a pair of glasses,” explained Campbell.

That was nine years ago. Today, Campbell is the sales and marketing coordinator for the startup company, QSpex Technologies. “I’m more a jack-of-all-trades versus an expert in any one field,” said Campbell. “I think that’s why QSpex was interested in me.”

Her current responsibilities include executing the marketing plan including advertising, multimedia, creating programs and marketing collateral, providing product information, managing and attending the major trade shows, and supporting the sales team. Campbell loves the variety her job provides including working with different people. Working for an emerging company also has its challenges as things are constantly changing and evolving, however, that’s also what makes it exciting to Campbell.

When asked how the role of women has changed in the last 10 years, Campbell finds that women are embraced by the industry and viewed more equal to men than ever before. “I believe that the Optical Women’s Association has contributed greatly to this through their many programs and events,” said Campbell.

SHE SAYS…“I’m inspired by people who create a positive environment by bringing out the best in others. The encouragement and support I receive at QSpex motivates me to do the best that I can no matter how small the task or project.”

Patience (Hansen) Cook

Global Brand Manager
Transitions Optical
Pinellas Park, Florida

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“She is responsible for leading the global development and evolution of Transitions Optical’s brand equity.”

Patience Cook works closely with regional marketing teams to lead the development and execution of the company’s brand strategy. In partnership with the R&D and product marketing teams, she oversees the brand positioning, commercial concept development and communications development for new key product initiatives.

“We have four global regions, and I have to empathize with each of them because of regional differences,” she explained. “I need to be there for them when they need to make a connection with corporate headquarters.”

Cook joined Transitions six years ago, working on North America marketing programs before taking on global marketing responsibilities a year-and-a-half ago. She cites Greg Marko, Transitions marketing director, Asia Pacific and Alexis Cardona, chief marketing officer, as mentors who helped enhance her understanding of the industry.

Cook led the development of Transitions’ global communications campaign “Life Well Lit,” including the creation of the TV commercial and print and digital elements for consumer and trade communications. “One of the things I love about Transitions is helping raise consumer awareness of the importance of eye exams,” she said. She also took the lead in the creation of the Transitions Vantage integrated campaign.

SHE SAYS…“ Inspiration is seeing a child try on glasses for the first time and realizing that there is even more to their world than they ever imagined.”

Tifani DeMaria

Senior Manager,
Optometric Career Services

Luxottica Retail
Frisco, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“As a passionate advocate for the benefits of partnering with Luxottica Retail, Tifani is the primary contact point for doctors of optometry who are interested in affiliating with the company, and she leads all of its relationships with the key schools of optometry across North America.”

Although she spent 13 years in the jewelry industry before joining Pearle Vision as a field manager in the Philadelphia market in 2001, Tifani DeMaria said that she, “simply fell in love with this business.” Three years later she moved to the eyecare side of the business, and five years ago she began supporting all brands for doctor recruitment. Now she works closely with optometry schools, focusing on training and continuing education for doctors of optometry. For example, in 2011 she worked with a former president of the American Optometric Association, Peter Kehoe, OD, on developing a program regarding doctors’ responsibility to meet their patients’ need for sun protection.

She credits some of her success to several leaders who have helped her develop both personally and professionally. These mentors include Rupe Hansra, OD, senior eyecare director, LensCrafters Eye Care Center for Excellence, as someone she said, “has inspired my vision for the future of our industry and our company,” and her boss, Dave Plogmann, senior vice president, optical partnerships, whose “belief in me and support of me has allowed me to elevate the services that my department and I are able to provide both within and outside of Luxottica,” she said..

SHE SAYS…“What I’m given the opportunity to do makes a difference for people. I’m able to connect doctors of optometry with a vision care brand that will help support their career goals and allow them to succeed.”

Candace Hunter

Operations Manager
Luxe Laboratory
Anaheim, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“She controls inventory, handles logistics, supervises employees and is developing strong leadership qualities. She possesses the skills to quickly and efficiently solve problems.”

At age eight, Candace Hunter got her first taste of the optical industry, cleaning trays at Multi-Facets, a California lab where her parents worked. At 18, she entered the lab business full-time, handled shipping and receiving, data entry and customer service at West Coast Lens, where she worked her way up to operations manager.

Hunter currently runs the day-to-day operations of Luxe Laboratory, a boutique lab in Anaheim, Calif. that opened in March and caters to high-end optical. The lab is owned by Richard Wilhelm, formerly of West Coast Lens. Hunter credits him as a mentor, along with David Holland and Vila Holland of Multi-Facets and West Coast Lens, and Angela Powell of West Coast Lens.

Although Hunter has many skills, she said being detail oriented is one of her primary strengths. “I seem to work well with organizing, indexing, finding discrepancies and so on. But I am also able to take a step back to see the whole picture.”

Hunter believes women will continue to influence the optical laboratory industry by taking on a more direct, one-on-one approach to service and education. “We as women tend to like to communicate, and this has enabled us to deliver higher levels of service to our customers when it comes to the latest optical fashion trends and newest technologies. This will all play a huge part in how we can effectively influence our customer base.”

SHE SAYS…“My advice to young women in optical is to be a sponge, absorb and learn about technology, fashion, culture, what makes others tick and where things are going in society. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make sure to be bold and brash.”

Patricia Machado

Vice President
New Business Development

Augen Optics
San Diego, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“She is a multi-tasker and a role model for working moms.”

During high school and college days, Machado would hang out at the Augen laboratories in Mexico, working for her father, Dr. Marco Machado, who founded the business and whom she cites as an inspiration. After earning an undergraduate degree in physics and a masters degree in industrial administration, she helped her father develop the layout, hire staff and set up administrative functions for Augen’s new lens manufacturing plant in Ensenada, Mexico. She also made glass molds for lens casting and later worked at Augen’s San Diego warehouse and distribution center on inventory control and customer service.

Machado left Augen to work at an irrigation company, an experience that increased her knowledge of operations management in manufacturing environments and lean manufacturing methods. She returned to Augen three-and-a-half years ago. Today, she is responsible for growing Augen’s brand presence and sales in the U.S. and other markets, overseeing marketing and sales efforts, attracting new business, developing and growing an internal free-form laboratory business to service U.S. laboratory partners and managing the administrative side of the U.S. business.

Machado said it can be challenging to adapt a non-American company with strong roots in its own country and culture to the U.S. market. “The ongoing challenge is how to maintain our Mexican heritage and ways of doing business yet blend into the American marketplace,” she remarked.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Machado is helping change how business is conducted by emphasizing negotiation, compromise and teamwork. “With more women in sales and management positions, discussions are moving from the technical aspects of the product to what’s best for the customer, business or industry,” she observed.

SHE SAYS…“Women tend to have a capacity to listen to all points of view and come up with a solution that’s good for all sides.”

Karen March, OD

Clinical Optometrist
General Leonard Wood Army
Community Hospital
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“She provides valuable input regarding sound policies and operational guidance due to her tenure at the same clinic. She is very convincing and convicted to high standards and the military does not suffer from a lack of substandard care with her at the watch.”

After graduating from Indiana University Optometry School in 2000, Karen March’s career took an unusual turn with stops along the way to Alaska, South Korea and then back to U.S. soil. She served as an active duty optometrist in the US Army from 2000 to 2004, first at Fort Wainwright in Alaska and then at Camp Casey in South Korea. Her experience in the field doing routine exams and providing trauma care to soldiers prepared March for her re-entry to civilian life with a four-year stint at LensCrafters. But the Army was still “near and dear to her heart” and in 2009 she returned as a civilian clinical optometrist for the US Army at Fort Leonard Wood.

Currently working at the base hospital, March provides comprehensive eyecare including ocular disease and contact lens management for beneficiaries, pre- and post-operative refractive surgery co-management, as well as optometric consultation services to other medical providers as needed. “Providing optimal vision care for America’s military members and their families is my contribution and show of gratitude for the service and sacrifice they make daily.”

She recently received the “Everyday Hero” award from the hospital commander for outstanding customer service after a patient nominated her for providing the “best eye exam ever.” March feels her longevity at the hospital as well as her ability to establish ongoing relationships with her patients has been a winning combination.

Her advice for women considering a career in optical? “Have confidence in yourself and your skills, maintain integrity in all you do, and be receptive to the wisdom and experience of those around you.”

SHE SAYS… “Always do what’s required for the best interests of your patients and customers first, and guaranteed success will follow.”

Priti Patel, OD

Vice President Professional Affairs and Operations
FirstSight Vision Services, Inc./ National Vision Inc.
Upland, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“She has the ability to communicate to people in a manner that helps them feel comfortable with achieving set goals. She is a leader in her profession and fully understands the optical industry and guides her organization to stay ahead of trends.”

Since joining FirstSight Vision Services (FSVS) in 2010, Priti Patel, OD has been responsible for the strategic vision and operational execution of affiliated optometry offices throughout California while navigating the complex health plan regulations and challenges. In addition, she works with optometrists through training, coaching, and individual performance plans to set business goals while building key relationships with industry representatives and interacting with the parent company and its board of directors.

During her tenure at the company, she has designed, structured and implemented a strategic direction for FSVS, delivered an increase in comparable sales and increased engagement among providers and employees.

Prior to this position, she was responsible for leading Walmart’s U.S. professional affairs and business relationship with 3,000 optometrists, a role which evolved into overseeing all health and wellness professional affairs, the division that brought optometry, pharmacy and hospital clinic systems into one group.

A member of the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Optometry, Patel sees the profession changing due to the increasing number of women and Asian optometrists entering the profession and reaching leadership positions. She recommends that other women looking to build an optical career surround themselves with industry leaders, stay committed and work hard.

SHE SAYS…“I have been fortunate to have had a good support system, starting with my father and family, followed by professional mentors. Throughout my career, I have understood I would not become a leader merely by being around industry leaders. Rather, I have strived to develop my own leadership skills by listening, observing, asking questions, giving my input and asking for constructive criticism.”

Daphne Reznik

Representative Program Manager
Vision Source
Kingwood, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“Daphne manages 110 Vision Source Representative groups across the U.S. and Canada, selects leaders for each group and helps with vendor sponsorship and programming for their individual meetings.”

Reznik likes all aspects of vision care. “I absolutely love the field of health care. Providing medical services and saving sight is a blessing to be a part of,” she said. “The fashion is an added bonus to me. Additionally, the technology is exciting—from lenses to the equipment practices can utilize for their patients.”

With Vision Source for about two years, Reznik previously worked for VisionCare Associates in Michigan, where she was a founding member for Athena WIN, the largest professional women’s network in mid-Michigan. She remains on the organization’s steering committee. As a Vision Source representative facilitator, she won the Facilitator of the Year Award. Currently, she runs the Vision Source Representative Program, working toward increasing member success.

“It’s a business, and we all need to be a part of that, no matter what day-to-day tasks we perform in the office,” she said. “If we keep that in mind, focusing on what our patients want and need as well as how to deliver it as a team, success will be the result.”

For women building a career in the optical field, she suggests finding a mentor, or several, in order to learn from women who have been there before. “By understanding numbers in addition to the needs of a business and combining that with the compassion and comprehension of patient needs, women will continue to be key players in the industry at the most local of levels as well as nationally and internationally,” she said.

SHE SAYS…“The mission of Vision Source inspires me. Coming from a background of politics, then working in a locally owned optometry practice for seven years, I feel so strongly about the need for Vision Source and our programs, including staff training and networking to help local practices succeed. I’m humbled to have the opportunity to be a part of it.”

Kimberly Schuy

Director, U.S. Vision Care Marketing
Alcon Laboratories, Inc.
Fort Worth, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Kim brings classic brand marketing and optical industry knowledge together to uncover growth opportunities. Her leadership in understanding the marketplace, patient and ECP trends, helps her identify growth opportunities for the optical industry, and bring new products to market.”

With a BSBA in finance from the University of Texas at Austin and a MBA in marketing and strategy from The Wharton School, Kimberly Schuy uses her skills and education in her position as the director of U.S. Vision Care marketing for Alcon Laboratories, Inc.

She’s responsible for marketing a variety of contact lens brands and lens care products including DAILIES, FreshLook, and OPTI-FREE and Clear Care. “There are two great things about my job. First, none of my days are the same, and second, marketing is a fantastic career for those who enjoy understanding people,’ said Schuy.

Her marketing responsibilities include brand positioning and targeting, brand awareness and trials, product launches and material development. Before Schuy was in the optical industry she worked in the skin care industry on Olay moisturizers. She was recruited to come work in optical and has been in the industry over eight years.

“I choose to stay in optical because our industry is like a family. Most of us who come to optical never leave,” said Schuy. The unique combination of science with innovation plus helping people have better lives through better vision is what keeps Schuy excited about working in optical. In 2009, Essilor selected Schuy and Maureen Cavanagh to represent the U.S. at the Dannon Executive Women’s Leadership Conference in Evain, France.

SHE SAYS…“Success often comes from being ‘good’ and ‘lucky.’ I consider myself very lucky to have had supportive bosses and a handful of inspirational women to show me what is possible for a woman to accomplish in the corporate world.”

Heather Smith

Senior Marketing Manager
Austin, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“Heather is creative, innovative and very influential in the direction of VisionWeb. She is committed to the organization and consistently performs to exceed expectations. She has impacted not only how we approach marketing but other companies in the industry as well. She’s a leader, isn’t afraid to take risks and is very hard working.”

“I got into in the optical field by chance, but I got interested in it in a different way,” said Heather Smith. “I knew that I wanted to focus on B2B marketing and was lucky enough to get that opportunity from VisionWeb. Once I was here, I realized how much potential there was in this industry to really be creative and innovative.”

Smith joined VisionWeb six years ago as a marketing coordinator on a three-member marketing team after helping clients develop marketing strategies at an Austin-based publishing company. “That was the start of my career in the optical industry. Today, I’m proud to say that I lead one the most creative, energetic and hardest working teams in the industry,” she added. It’s a team that has grown to four full-time employees and “a few of the best interns a company could ask for,” according to Smith.

“Success is earned through hard work; it’s not an entitlement—that’s my personal philosophy. It inspires me to work hard and it’s definitely applicable in this industry. I think that regardless of the industry, the second you just keep doing what is safe you’re in trouble. You have to always look forward, try to innovate, try to improve and always strive to do more,” Smith said.

“I’m mentored by women at every turn, particularly my dear friends Julia Medina and Juanita Burke (former honorees themselves). We’ve got an excellent support system for women in this industry and the best thing we can do is keep it going. I would be lying if I didn’t say you need to work like crazy but it’s the best way to enjoy what you do.”

SHE SAYS… “Don’t waste the first three years trying to find your way. Jump in! Join the organizations, go to the events and get to know people. When someone stands out at the beginning, ask them about their experience, and ask them how they got involved.”

Rachael Anne Wruble, OD, FAAO

Summit Eye Associates
Gastonia, North Carolina

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“In only two years, she has gained the respect and trust of patients and is now producing revenue at ‘partner level.’ She has quickly become recognized for her intelligence, her accountability and her ‘can do’ attitude.”

While playing on the Ferris State University Golf Team, Rachael Wruble’s coach was able to see her potential beyond the fairways and greens. As chief of medical and surgical service at the Michigan College of Optometry, he strongly encouraged her to apply for the program and the rest, as they say, was a hole in one. Her graduation from the school in 2009 was followed by a residency at the Salisbury VAMC in 2010 at which time she joined Summit Eye Associates.

In addition to her expertise in ocular disease management (dry eyes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes) she provides specialty contact lens exams and has tackled vendor negotiations and insurance fee schedule management in an effort to boost the practice’s bottom line. It is her clinical experience coupled with her people skills and head for numbers that has skyrocketed her career—she will become an official partner in the practice at year’s end.

“I think personal relationships make the difference: I am not just someone’s eye doctor they see once per year. I am a listener in the exam room, an educator to children and adults, a volunteer/leader in the community. I want to be there for my patients, both inside and outside the exam room.”

In the future she predicts we may not be seeing just a routine eye exam completed; it may be a physical or a wellness exam.” I am seeing a change in more supplements compared to prescription medications and people wanting a healthier lifestyle. I think that most women want this personally and can incorporate it into practice.”

Her advice for women today—“Imagine your dream, create your own happiness, and live your life to the fullest potential. Never stop learning.”

SHE SAYS…“My parents pushed me to reach for my potential and Dr. Ann Hoscheit gave me not only my first job, but also the wisdom, drive and knowledge that make me strive for more.”