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Sunday / June 23.
HomemibusinessStrength in Independence as Finola Carey Exits Optics

Strength in Independence as Finola Carey Exits Optics

Having made a significant contribution to the strength and differentiation of independent optics in Australia, Finola Carey has resigned her position as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Optical Distributors & Manufacturers Association (ODMA) and stepped away from the profession of optics.

Ms Carey, who spent 27 years in the organisation, was appointed CEO in 2010. Highly respected for her commitment to independent optometry and her strength of character, she said of herself, “No-one has been left wondering about my opinions”.

One of the legacies Finola leaves is the industry’s focus on differentiation of independent optics

Having made long-lasting friends in the industry, among them suppliers, optometrists, dispensers and administrators, Ms Carey said she leaves with a sense of sadness but also excitement for the future.

“I’m looking forward to the relief that comes with stepping down from the full-time position of CEO within such a dynamic industry,” she told mivision.

Asked what she considered to be her greatest achievement during her time as CEO, Ms Carey said it was “working with 10 different Chairs, each with such different personalities, which required flexibility, an ability to fit in with people, and to never lose your sense of humour”. Additionally she said, building professional partnerships with Optometry Victoria South Australia, and launching O-Show after 10 years in discussion were significant achievements.

Ms Carey said one impetus for change was the death last year of her great friend, Richard Grills. Mr Grills was integral to vision care in Australia. He was the founder of Designs for Vision, a Director of ODMA, the Genetic Eye Foundation (now Look For Life) and Macular Disease Foundation Australia, and the Chair of the former Essilor Vision Foundation.

“The loss of Richard took the rug out from under me. He was a beautiful friend and such a mentor – a champion of mine for more than 20 years. We got along famously… Richard’s passing made me consider things.”

Asked what she would miss the most having stepped away from ODMA, Ms Carey said “the people – I know almost every optometrist and dispenser in the country, … I’ve known couples with children and I’ve watched those children grow up and take over their parent’s businesses. I’ve made some great friendships over the years.”

Ms Carey leaves the independent optics industry at a time of great change, with the recently launched Optometrist Warehouse vying for market share and consolidation of independent optometry practices. However, she remains optimistic that those independents who “continue to focus on their own business and do it properly” will always have a share of the market.

CHAIR PAYS TRIBUTE

In a statement, ODMA Chair Robert Sparkes paid tribute to Ms Carey’s substantial contribution to the industry and to the development of the Association.

“Finola has been an inspirational leader of ODMA over a long period and we wish her well for the future,” Mr Sparkes said.

“She has helped the industry evolve positively, led our advocacy efforts across a range of issues and navigated the organisation through the pandemic when many associations faltered.

“Finola is a creative thinker in strategy and planning – her knowledge of effective governance has time and again ensured proven outcomes for ODMA.

“She was one of the architects of the joint venture agreement between ODMA and Optometry Victoria/South Australia, out of which O=MEGA (the premier optical event in the Southern Hemisphere) was born and can be credited with a major role in securing the World Congress of Optometry for Melbourne in 2023.

“One of the legacies Finola leaves is the industry’s focus on differentiation of independent optics. While there is still work to do, this has begun a real change which is having a deep impact.

“Finola leaves ODMA in a very strong position, with record support and a positive balance sheet” he said.