The shortlist has been announced for the Silmo IOA International Optician of the Year Award. The finalists are:

Jean-François Porte (France)
Angela Mitchell (New Zealand)
Vitor Manuel Simões Martins (Portugal)
Phernell Walker (USA)
Carrie Wilson (USA)

The innovative Silmo IOA International Optician of the Year Award, first given in 2018, recognises the importance of the optician in the optical business and their role in the choice of optimum products for their clientele. The award is presented by the International Opticians Association (IOA), an international body dedicated to the enhancement and development of the profession worldwide, in partnership with Silmo.

More about the finalists

Jean Francois Porte founded Edgard Opticians with his partner Julien Quesnel, growing the company from 1 to 16 independent optical stores plus 8 franchise stores in major cities in France. The business has been built on word of mouth, customer satisfaction, specialisation (two of his stores are dedicated to children) and designer products. He is also vice President of the Rassemblement des Opticiens de France.

Angela Mitchell is the president of The Association of Dispensing Opticians of New Zealand. Angela has helped to grow and develop the Low Vision speciality clinic in her practice reaching the local elderly community. Angela also has a special interest in Myopia Management offering comprehensive services in practice.

Vitor Manuel Simões Martins founded Maxivisao with his partner Ana Carvalho. They have created the brand of frames Mundo by Maxivisão and the cleaning brand Maxiclean alongside their optical practices. As well as having a successful practices in Portugal, Vitor has participated in many charity events at home as well as carrying out Solidarity Missions abroad providing eyecare to people who cannot afford it.

Phernell Walker has practiced opticianry for over 30 years. Phernell is a sought after speaker and author of Pure Optics. He has a special interest in communicating what can be done with eyewear to improve the lives of patients. He serves on the Board of Directors for both the Opticians Association of America (OAA) and the American Board of Opticianry (ABO).

Carrie Wilson has been in the optical industry for over 25 years working with large scale retailers, independents and franchises. She is an optician, trainer, speaker, and a professor at the College of Southern Nevada in Anatomy and Physiology and Contact Lenses. Carrie created Optigal Consulting providing optical education and business consulting. Carrie is the US representative for the International Standards Organization for Ophthalmic Lenses and Manufacturing.

IOA President Donald Crichton says, “We are impressed by the calibre of entries and delighted to announce this short list. The finalists will now have the chance to supply a dossier of evidence to back up their achievements in the eight areas of expertise we are looking for. I hope that showcasing these outstanding opticians will inspire the whole profession.”

The winner of this award, all qualified opticians in the country they practice in, will display the following attributes:
• Professionalism – the client is at the heart of their business and receives excellent care.
• Excellent communication skills – both personally and via social media.
• Entrepreneurial spirit – with solid business acumen highlighted through the success of their enterprise.
• Innovation – within their business model / product offer / shop design.
• Specialisation – with a reputation in a specific branch of optics.
• Creativity – both in the products they offer and the way they practice.
• Engagement – with the profession, the community, charitable endeavours and industry.
• Advocacy - championing the profession of dispensing.

What happens next

The finalists will be contacted and asked to fill in a dossier. The dossiers will be scrutinised by an international panel made up of industry experts. The winner will be announced during Silmo in Paris, France.

As well as the award, the winner will also win a trip to Silmo 2024 (economy air fare and hotel).

The 2022 winner, chosen from a competitive field, was Grant Hannaford. Grant has made Hannaford Eyewear the destination for leading edge innovation and excellence in clinical care for the Southern Highlands in Australia as well as delivering optical dispensing training for optometrists at UNSW.

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Topic: Optical Education