VICE PRESIDENT, PROVIDER SOLUTIONS
Rancho Cordova, California
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She has led many sales teams to record breaking years and is always looking for ways to move the needle forward.”
Erin Allen’s recent promotion to vice president of provider solutions at VSP Global is the culmination of more than 28 years of sales experience within the optical business world. Her career path started in 1990 as an Essilor sales representative and continued on an upward trail of sales positions and successes at various optical companies. In 2012, Allen joined VSP as director of sales, West zone for the Optics Group, earning the coveted Director of the Year award three times. In 2016, she took over the Altair sales team achieving record sales years in 2016 and 2017.
In her current position, Allen leads VSP’s Global business development team, which consults, serves and provides opportunities to VSP network doctors participating in the VSP Global Premier Program. She is responsible for facilitating the company’s cross line of business sales initiatives and activities. Allen also oversees the global sales launches of innovative products like VSP Global’s Level smart eyeglasses, which integrates activity-tracking technology into the eyewear.
Allen’s impressive record of accomplishments in sales reflects her leadership style, which is to provide sales associates with “everything you can to ensure success, including a strategy, clear direction, training, resources and tools.” She encourages her team members to combine sales and analytics to ensure a consultation approach to finding new customer opportunities and solutions.
SHE SAYS… “Remove the obstacles, roll up your sleeves and work with your teams. And have fun while you work hard.”
Independent Doctors of Optometric Care (IDOC)
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Ashley has led IDOC’s efforts to retool our marketing approach, giving us a deeper understanding of what independent optometrists need and want today.”
For a professional alliance focused on helping practices grow, understanding the concerns of current members and prospective members is essential. In a short time, Ashley Cyr has had a strong influence on Independent Doctors of Optometric Care’s (IDOC) ability to achieve that goal.
Cyr’s marketing career began in medical devices and led her into event management, where she facilitated personal contact for clients and prospects with C-level executives. Creating and maintaining connections is also at the core of her work at IDOC. She has implemented a customer resource management system that makes marketing more efficient through continuous analysis and optimization. The result, according to IDOC CEO, Dave Brown, is that “We now have an ever-growing funnel of leads and a much-improved understanding of what works and does not work in terms of messaging, open rates and timing for marketing efforts.”
Though she has only spent a brief time in optical (an industry not lacking in idiosyncrasies), she has hit the ground running. “I’ve found that immersing yourself in the various areas as soon as possible will help broaden and deepen your knowledge in this space. Having the opportunity to speak with our members on what their challenges are has really jump-started my career at IDOC.”
SHE SAYS… “I’ve been incredibly fortunate to meet a few key people in my previous and current roles that have been mentors to me throughout my marketing career They support me, coach me, challenge me, collaborate with me, and have been a major influence on where and who I am today.”
Marie E. DiPalma
SENIOR BRAND DIRECTOR, RAY-BAN
Luxottica Wholesale North America
New York, New York
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Marie played an important role in the launch of Ray-Ban prescription lenses to wholesale customers across North America. Given the size of the brand—the most popular eyewear brand in the world—and the unique aspects of the offering, Marie helped to outline the value proposition for customers and develop tools to explain the benefits to their wholesale consumers as well. This was arguably the biggest product launch in the industry last year and Marie’s efforts helped to make it a success.”
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As senior brand director for Ray-Ban within the North American wholesale marketplace, Marie DiPalma is responsible for launching new products as well as driving organic growth for the industry’s leading eyewear brand. This includes developing product assortment strategies, distribution plans, trade marketing projects as well as commercial tactics. The launch of Ray-Ban prescription lenses over the past year was one of the most complex product introductions for her brand team, said DiPalma. “We focused on ensuring that our sales representatives, customers and end consumers were equipped to identify and deliver the brand’s strong value proposition.”
DiPalma’s expertise at marketing and new product introductions was honed over the years, working for Estee Lauder and Avon before joining Luxottica four years ago. Hired as brand director for Luxottica’s Premium Fashion Portfolio, her first assignment was to launch Michael Kors eyewear. DiPalma’s management style in working with her marketing teams is to avoid micromanaging.
SHE SAYS… “If you have the right people in the right roles and you are transparent about what everyone needs to accomplish, you shouldn’t need to micromanage.”
Arian Fartash, OD
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Fartash is a leader in using social media to educate patients on eye health, market eyewear and ophthalmic solutions. She finds the fun and fashion in eyeglasses.”
“Know your self-worth and add tax” is a quote that Dr. Arian Fartash lives by and encourages other women to live by too. “I have always felt that I have been on the same playing field as everyone else in the profession. I set my own wages, negotiate my own hours, and do not sacrifice my integrity and values to please others,” she said.
“I encourage all women to be confident, know their self-worth, and never think of themselves as weak.” Dr. Fartash, a second-generation optometrist and Southern California College of Optomety (SCCO) graduate has worked in many facets of optometry including retail, private practice and nursing homes. However, after seeing a void in the online space for optometry, education and fashion to converge, she started her social media platform and blog, known as Glam Optometrist.
Through this platform, she’s been able to shed light on the profession of optometry in a fun, modern way and connect with the public. She’s been featured on ABC 7 news Live spreading awareness about issues including sun protection, children’s vision and eye safety. Additionally, in 2017 Dr. Fartash started a social media company to help optical offices utilize their social media. Being experienced in the field, she is able to implement successful tools in social media to help offices increase patient count and revenue.
SHE SAYS… “I have never felt that being a woman has made my career goals and path more difficult because I have always set the tone for my own destiny in optometry.”
Essilor of America
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “of her leadership, creativity, drive, passion and knowledge of the field. Through storytelling, her efforts drive the conversation, the message and the sense of urgency on the overall importance of eye health. She has reinvented both internal and external communications for Essilor and has reset the bar for the industry.”
Holly Gillentine defines her role as one “to connect our organization, people and customers to the Essilor Group mission of improving lives by improving sight through an integrated communications strategy.” Along with driving trade communications and campaigns, she also helps in customer experiences, employee and community engagement programs. To that end, she’s helped create an internal social media and news channel (WIRED).
Gillentine joined Essilor almost three years ago. She’d been an executive director and head of consumer marketing for Golin in Texas for more than 9 years, leading a team in the retail, energy and technology sectors. She’s had roles both on the agency side and with companies like Blockbuster and Match.com.
After receiving a B.S. journalism degree from Ohio University, she completed an MBA, with a focus on marketing, from Southern Methodist University.
Today, Gillentine is a member of the Optical Women’s Association, Essilor Women’s Network and serves as an executive adviser to Inclusion and Diversity at Essilor of America. In 2016, she was the Sloan Visiting Professional Lecturer at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.
“I’m successful because of the team that surrounds me. Specifically at Golin, Ginger Porter, our managing director, was the ultimate combination of sponsor, friend and growth driver. Two people at Essilor have really helped me understand, embrace and love what I do: Dr. Howard Purcell and Sherianne James.”
SHE SAYS… “Embrace change. Go beyond your job. Love what you do.”
Danielle Irvine, OD
CLINICAL DIRECTOR OF LOW VISION
Spectrios Institute for Low Vision
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Irvine’s caring nature and selflessness show in the quality and compassion of her patient care. She devotes an incredible amount of time to patient communication, education and advocacy for those whose voices are often lost in the socioeconomic hierarchy. She serves everyone with love, care and the utmost respect. Her desire to serve others is unparalleled.”
Danielle Irvine, OD, graduated from Illinois College of Optometry in 2012, where she received the William Feinbloom Low Vision Award. She continued her work in low vision as a resident at ICO, the Spectrios Institute of Low Vision, and the Chicago Lighthouse, where her research included the use of iPads in low vision treatment.
After a brief sojourn in private practice, Dr. Irvine took over the clinical director position at Spectrios, where she trains residents and treats patients with various low vision issues, regardless of their ability to pay. She also spearheads a low vision clinic in Aurora, Ill., where she provides education in the community about eye disease and general health, and partners with other health agencies to provide nutrition education.
Dr. Irvine considers her major accomplishments to be “seeing a steady increase in people served each year since taking this role three years ago and providing hope to patients who have been told that nothing else can be done for their vision.”
SHE SAYS… “I encourage you to continue innovating and dreaming. We are experiencing an exciting time of advancing technology, while increasing numbers of people are suffering permanent vision loss from conditions such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Providing the gift of enhanced vision is priceless.”
MANAGER, TECHNOLOGY OPERATIONS
Quantum Innovations, Inc.
Central Point, Oregon
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Her ability to relate with company personnel and Quantum’s customers has been critical in the rapid growth of the company. Her understanding of Quantum’s products and her ability to make the message clear to all has had a major impact on the company’s growth.”
Lawson spent more than a decade working in manufacturing before joining Quantum Innovations during its second year in business as employee number three. During her 14 years with the company, she has been instrumental in building its work force to 43 employees and helping it grow from a 2,000 square foot building to its current 15,000 square foot production facility which makes anti-reflecting coating systems and other products used at labs throughout the world.
After working in accounting and sales administration at Quantum, Lawson became manager of technology operations. In that role, she oversees manufacturing, technical support and sustaining engineering. She is a member of a team that is responsible for building, maintaining and improving Quantum equipment.
“While many corporate environments require, even encourage, self-promotion, Quantum believes in serving others first as the catalyst for a virtuous cycle. My primary—and most critical—role is to support my team and meet their needs in whatever way necessary. At Quantum, our belief is “Manage things; lead people.”
SHE SAYS… “Just be.
1. Be relentless—Always pursue what is right/best (assertive), but don’t hurt others’ feelings while doing it (aggressive).
2. Be yourself—You’ll have more energy to do great things if you aren’t wasting it trying to be someone or something else.
3. Be fun—If you’re not enjoying yourself, neither are the people on your team.
4. Be a servant—Helping others is its own joy.
5. Be a student—Keep learning; it’s fun!”
VICE PRESIDENT OF EYEWEAR
ABB Optical Group
Coral Springs, Florida
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Within the first two years at ABB Nan established a new sales channel specifically for eyewear, incorporating these salespeople throughout the entire sales organization. Her perceptiveness to customer needs has led to her creating a vendor partnership to provide finished sunwear upon providing a prescription. The bottom line is that vendor partners are seeking Nan’s ideas and opinions regarding new processes and deliverables.”
Prior to working in the optical industry, Nan Meehan spent 25+ years in office products with great brands taking on VP leadership roles in sales and marketing where she “enjoyed seeing many innovative products turn into successful launches. I joined ABB Optical four years ago and feel fortunate to be a part of this great industry.”
In her current role as VP of Eyewear, Meehan serve as a critical intermediary for several departments, driving collaboration among the Digital Eye Lab (DEL) Network, Primary Eyecare Network and the company’s stock lenses division. She led the launch of the DEL Network’s EZCONNECT, an online portal that allows ECPs to order eyewear, lenses and fabrication all at once with valuable one-package pricing and free shipping.
“As an executive in a billion dollar company, we operate with a small company charm which truly has an entrepreneurial style. We have respect for each other at all levels and care about our customers. These are important qualities in life and in business.”
SHE SAYS… “Personally, my philosophy has always been to lead by example and treat people the way you would want to be treated. In each case, be honest and open but always be driving for results. I focus on accountability. These core values resonate for me as they are the same ones we believe in at ABB Optical.”
MANAGER OF THE MYOPIA PROGRAM
AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI)
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She is a globally recognized leader in understanding myopia, its near epidemic proportions and its treatment, especially via visual/optical means.”
Padmaja Sankaridurg is manager of the Myopia Program and Intellectual Property, and a member of the executive at Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI). She is responsible for multiple projects directed at tackling the global myopia “epidemic,” including development of optical devices that will slow the progression of myopia in children and prevent them from reaching high levels of the condition and exposure to increased risk of potentially blinding conditions.
With a background in contact lens studies, experience establishing a clinical trials center and as a research and consultant optometrist, coupled with many years working on myopia research, she brings multiple skills and knowledge to this role. Recently, she added expertise in intellectual property (IP), complementing over a decade of involvement in product development with postgraduate qualifications in this highly specialized area.
“I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from visionaries in the field,” said Sankaridurg. “Notable of these are Dr. Gullapalli Rao, chairman of LV Prasad Eye Institute, who is a humanitarian and exemplar for social equality and justice. In providing a system that delivers vision care of the highest quality with compassion to individuals in need, irrespective of their economic status, he taught me that the ‘individual’ is the most important. The late Prof. Brien Holden taught me that excellence is an attitude that has to be projected in everything one does.”
SHE SAYS… “Work hard, strive for excellence, be compassionate to those around you and if the situation demands it, stand up for yourself and those around you. Our actions, either individual or collective, will support other women in the future.”
20/20 Europe Magazine
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Matilde is a young entrepreneur who is willing to take risks, while steadfastly keeping calm in the face of an extremely challenging market. She has raised the profile of the magazine with contents and insights that are important to the market and beyond.”
Matilde Sometti’s love of advertising started when she was only 19 and began working as an assistant at Studio Zanasi, a communications and PR agency in charge of advertising sales in the optical business, representing Jobson in Europe. “Some years after, I started to deal with my first customers and I finally had the great opportunity to handle the whole advertising area in the agency,” she said.
Her career path led her to 20/20 Europe where she assisted in managing all of the magazine’s production, operations and attendance to international shows and events. Sometti said, “In 2015, thanks to the experience gained over several years, I took over the full management of the magazine and became its publisher. Currently, I also represent the advertising for Mido worldwide including all the promotional tools associated with the show.”
Sometti credits her mentor Cecilia Zanasi “who taught her everything about business and the publishing industry.” She also thanks Dennis Murphy, Jobson’s VP of sales, “for always giving me valuable advices on sales. I really learned a lot from him about this fascinating profession.”
SHE SAYS… “You don’t know what you are capable of until you put yourself in a position to do something you have never done before. This is the most important thing I learned in my career, especially after opening my own business. Take courage and go out from your comfort zone—you will discover a world full of amazing opportunities.”