Back to our stories

Pharmacy, to Support Office to Opticians: Changing careers with Hina at Boots

Hina Boots Jobs Blog
Hina | December 01, 2023
Central Operations Manager and Chair of the Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage BRG
I love being a Boots team member because in every role I’ve worked in I’ve been able to make a difference to customers, patients and colleagues, which gives me a sense of fulfilment.
Hina Boots Jobs Blog

I’m Hina, Central Operations Manager at Boots Opticians and Chair of the Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage Business Resource Group (REACH BRG). I first joined Boots in 2015 as a Saturday Customer Advisor. I loved this job, interacting with the public, helping them with their purchases and eventually I had the opportunity to move onto the Healthcare Counter where I qualified as a Healthcare Assistant.

Working closely with the Pharmacists in store lead me to find my passion for Pharmacy. I was blown away by their level of knowledge about various health conditions and their ability to help people on a weekend when GP surgeries are closed and access to healthcare professionals is limited. My father was also a Pharmacist and my older siblings were on their own journeys to becoming Pharmacists, so it was in the family, but my weekend job was my first interaction with Pharmacists in a work environment.

I love large, busy environments and therefore retail was always going to have my heart. Boots was one of the biggest stores on the high street in Leeds and still is… That’s what attracted me in! I love being a Boots team member because in every role I’ve worked in I’ve been able to make a difference to customers, patients and colleagues, which gives me a sense of fulfilment.

Your journey from Trainee to Qualified Pharmacist

Throughout my Pre-registration Pharmacist year, now known as Trainee Pharmacist year, I was highly supported by my supervisor. She both challenged and helped me. In fact, her focus on my training meant that I was not allowed to hand a single medication to a patient unless I was able to say what it was used for, the appropriate dose and possible side effects. She would also listen in each time I consulted a patient and intervene with guidance where needed. This was daunting at first, but I learnt quickly. I will forever be grateful to my tutor as it was her who instilled high standards into me, from a clinical point of view and also in terms of running a store.

I highly recommend the Boots Trainee Pharmacist Programme to others, there were plenty of training materials provided as well as face to face training days and post qualification support too.

I worked in several roles after qualifying, including Relief Pharmacist, Store Based Pharmacist and Pharmacist Store Manager. I can summarise being a Pharmacist as being in a unique and privileged position to impact the health and lives of the general public. This can be through the smallest conversations with patients and providing vaccination services as well the bigger interventions such as spotting and rectifying prescribing errors.

I remember during my first month as a qualified Pharmacist, I had to look after a patient who suffered an anaphylactic reaction to something they had eaten and came into the pharmacy as the reaction was developing. The ambulance service was on site quickly and asked me to support with the lifesaving treatment the patient needed as it was a single paramedic who attended. Following on from this, it was picked up that the patient had diabetes and I was able to help them though the New Medicine Service. They became a lifelong patient and customer of our store and even brought me flowers to say thank you. At the time as my adrenaline was pumping, my training kicked in and I responded to the situation accordingly. But I remember sitting down in the break room after the incident and my hands were shaking. My team in store were on hand to comfort and support me with a cup of tea and some kind words!

Learning to Lead a Store

During my time as a Pharmacist I was lucky enough to work with a Store Manager who was keen to support my development and was constantly upskilling me on the skills I would need when I became a Store Manager. My first Area Manager was incredibly supportive with regular visits and calls where he’d take the time to ensure I was set up for success.

As a Store Leader, my priority was always my people, I realised very early on that the team would always be the key to success. I’d always try and encourage the team by creating a culture of care where we celebrated birthdays and cultural festivities in the tea room over a slice of cake!

My leadership style has changed and evolved to match the roles I’ve carried out. I think the thing that is important as a leader is to listen and listening to understand rather than just listening to respond. There’s also a lot to be learned by watching other leaders and seeing how they do things.

Expanding to a Support Office Role

My first role in the Support Office was Product Owner and Clinical Safety Officer, and it was a huge change for me. Working in store as a Store Manager required a very different skillset to Support Office working. Suddenly, there was more focus on producing written presentations and presenting them to groups of people I’d never met. This was quite a step change for me, away from the busy pace of retail and requiring thinking in a different way to produce strategic solutions. My team members who helped me settle in are still my friends today.

The role was working on our Pharmacy Management System, and involved a lot of listening to stores, understanding requirements and liaising with our technical teams to make the changes happen. I really had to widen my thinking from being the Store Manager of one store to thinking of all stores. To be a great Product Manager you need to have good communication skills, an ability to prioritise and be ten steps ahead at all times as our business is everchanging and evolving!

Following this role, I then went on to work as Customer Offer & Development Manager and also Proposition Development Manager before gaining my current role with Boots Opticians.

Hina Boots Opticians Jobs

Your move to Boots Opticians

Nearly a year ago, I was looking for a new challenge and happened to stumble across a job titled Central Operations Manager on Boots.Jobs. The role seemed to have a wide remit and an opportunity to influence stores in a positive way. Opticians is similar to Pharmacy in that it’s delivering healthcare within a retail environment and therefore there’s quite a lot of crossover. This role is fast paced, there’s a real appetite to simplify and create efficiencies for our store team members. I have a team of fantastic people enabling our stores to trade every day which is amazing. I’ve brought together all of my previous experiences of supplier negotiation, risk management, project management as well as leadership to try and excel in this role!

I have a great blend of spending time in our stores with the field leadership team as well as working with suppliers and other teams in the Support Office to deliver new and exciting projects.

Hina Boots Opticians Jobs
Hina Boots Opticians Jobs

Tell us about your involvement with the REACH BRG

I recently became Chair of the Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage BRG which has left me with mixed emotions – daunting yet exciting! As part of my role, I will be responsible for several tasks. This includes being the main point of contact for our DEI team and collaborating with our Opticians team. I will also be working closely with our Executive Sponsor to ensure that our work is visible throughout the organisation. Additionally, I will be working with other BRGs to promote collaboration, provide leadership to the BRG, and advocate for the interests of our members.

Business Resource Groups (BRGs) offer employees the chance to connect with others who share similar interests, backgrounds, or experiences beyond their usual work groups. By participating in BRGs, team members can explore new things together, develop their leadership abilities, and sharpen their professional skills.

The REACH BRG has a focus on race, culture, and ethnicity. It is a community for members to celebrate diversity and important cultural events. Additionally, it represents and supports the business in areas like marketing and product design where opinions and views can influence outcomes. My Vice Chair and I are currently working on our plan for FY24 and determining the goals for the BRG. My top priority is to establish a strong leadership team to execute our plan effectively. We plan to continue our efforts from previous years, such as supporting the ‘Inclusion in Action’ reverse mentoring programme and hosting events to celebrate cultural events such as Black History Month.

Follow in Hina’s footsteps and experience an exciting and varied career path at Boots! Search and apply today.

  • Share via
Back to top