THE FINALISTS FOR THE SILMO IOA INTERNATIONAL OPTICIAN OF THE YEAR AWARD 2023 (from left to right, top to bottom): Jean-François Porte (FRA), Angela Mitchell (NZL),Phernell Walker (USA), Carrie Wilson (USA), Vitor Manuel Simões Martins (PRT)
This innovative award, presented for the first time in 2018, recognises the importance of the optician in the world of optics and their role in choosing optimal products for their customers. The award is presented by the International Opticians Association (IOA), an international body dedicated to the improvement and development of the profession worldwide, in partnership with SILMO.
Find out more about the finalists
Jean François Porte founded Edgard Opticians with his partner Julien Quesnel, taking the company from 1 to 16 independent optical shops and 8 franchised shops in France's major cities. The company was built on word of mouth, customer satisfaction, specialisation (two of his shops are dedicated to children) and designer products. He is also vice-chairman of the Rassemblement des Opticiens de France.
Angela Mitchell is President of the Association of Dispensing Opticians of New Zealand. Angela has been instrumental in the growth and development of the low vision clinic within her practice, which caters for the local senior community. Angela also has an interest in the management of myopia and offers a comprehensive service from her practice.
Vitor Manuel Simões Martins founded Maxivisao with his partner Ana Carvalho. They created the frames brand Mundo by Maxivisão and the cleaning products brand Maxiclean alongside their optical practices. In addition to the success of his practice in Portugal, Vitor has taken part in numerous charity events in his own country and has carried out solidarity missions abroad, providing eye care to people who cannot afford it.
Phernell Walker has been a practising optician for over 30 years. Phernell is a sought-after speaker and author of Pure Optics. He is particularly interested in communicating what can be done with spectacles to improve patients' lives. He serves on the boards of the Opticians Association of America (OAA) and the American Board of Opticianry (ABO).
Carrie Wilson has worked in the optical industry for over 25 years with major retailers, independents and franchises. She is an optician, trainer, lecturer and professor of anatomy and physiology and contact lenses at the College of Southern Nevada. Carrie founded Optigal Consulting, which provides optical training and business consulting. Carrie is the U.S. representative to the International Organization for Standardization for ophthalmic lenses and lens manufacturing.
IOA President Donald Crichton said: "We are impressed by the quality of the entries and delighted to announce this selection. The finalists will now have the opportunity to provide a portfolio of evidence to support their achievements in the eight areas of expertise we are seeking. I hope that these outstanding opticians will inspire the profession as a whole.
The winners of this prize, who are all qualified opticians in the country where they practice, will have the following characteristics:
- Professionalism: the customer is at the heart of their business and receives excellent care.
- Excellent communication skills: both personally and via social networks.
- Entrepreneurial spirit: with a strong business sense underpinned by the success of their business.
- Innovation: in their business model, product offering or shop design.
- Specialisation: with a reputation in a specific branch of optics.
- Creativity: both in the products they offer and in the way they practise.
- Commitment: to the profession, the community, charities and the industry.
- Defending the profession of optician.
The next steps
The finalists will be contacted and invited to complete an application. The applications will be examined by an international jury of industry experts. The winner will be announced at the next SILMO Paris.
In addition to the prize, the winner will receive a trip to SILMO Paris 2024 (economy class airfare and hotel).
The 2022 winner, chosen from a competitive shortlist, was Grant Hannaford. Grant has established Hannaford Eyewear as a destination for cutting-edge innovation and excellence in clinical care for Australia's Southern Highlands, as well as optical dispensing training for UNSW optometrists.
To find out more, visit www.ioassn.org/award.