Meet Dr Jillian Campbell, owner of Richard Lindsay & Associates in Melbourne, Australia. She is an optometrist, a specialty custom lens expert, paper author, lecturer and a mentor for up-and-coming custom lens specialists. Get to know Dr Campbell and discover her insights for running a busy practice below, in our latest Women In Optometry profile.

Hi Dr Campbell. You’re an optometrist and specialty lens expert, not to mention a paper contributor, lecturer and panelist, an iconic-pink-suit wearer(!)—and now a business owner!

Tell us a bit about what you do and the impact it’s having.

Ah, you’ve noticed the pink suits! Yes, my collection has grown so extensive these days that these bright suits have become my uniform.

Well, I’m now the business owner and an optometrist at Richard Lindsay & Associates, nestled in the heart of Balwyn North. Our team of thirteen, which includes five dedicated optometrists, is passionate about enhancing vision with specialty contact lenses. There’s an unparalleled joy in enabling someone to rediscover the intricate beauty of the world, like the delicate veins of a leaf, perhaps for the first time in years.

As for paper contributor, well, let’s just say my desktop is a testament to my enthusiasm for research – it’s littered with a myriad of half-finished articles and case reports. I also lecture at Melbourne University and have done so for the past few years. I’m starting to think I might be a bit cursed, though. Every time a lecture looms on the horizon, I seem to catch a cold or, heaven forbid, Covid. This year, I had to bow out of one because my voice decided to take a spontaneous holiday – three days of utter silence! 

What inspired you to become a practice owner? How does it feel to run a business?

What are the best parts, and what are the biggest challenges?

My aspiration to own a practice developed during my childhood in the remote landscapes of far north Queensland. My affinity for optometry emerged early, influenced by my experience of wearing glasses since I was just 18 months old.

Operating a business is comparable to a rollercoaster journey, replete with highs, lows, and stimulating challenges. Mastering time management has been akin to climbing my personal Everest, as I try to excel professionally while maintaining a healthy personal life balance. I constantly remind myself to remain patient and compassionate, particularly while traversing this steep learning curve.

The aspect I cherish most is the autonomy it provides; the decisions and the mistakes are solely mine, and I relish this responsibility. It empowers me to make choices about aspects like work schedules and vacation time. Indeed, mistakes are made, but they become valuable lessons, offering insights that I can apply to enhance my practice.

Which of your attributes contribute to success at work?

 If I were to boil it down to essentials it would be consistency and a strong work ethic. Whether it’s providing the best care for my patients, making business decisions, or championing my signature pink suit, these values keep me anchored and moving forward.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

The highlight of my career has been taking the helm at Richard Lindsay & Associates.

Also, being nominated for a ‘Rising Star Award’ by Optometry Australia was a moment of immense pride, reaffirming my dedication to this field.

Who are your female role models and how have they influenced your career?

In the realm of optometry and beyond, I am continually inspired by many illustrious women who have shaped my professional ethos and aspirations. Foremost among them is my mother, who instilled in me an unwavering work ethic. I am also an avid follower of several international luminaries in the field of specialty contact lenses, such as Dr. Daddi Fadel, Melissa Barnett, Stephanie Woo, Elise Kramer, and Christine Sindt, to name a few. These professionals are leaders in our field, and I eagerly follow their work on social media, at conferences, and learn a lot from their case reports, lectures, and social media posts.

In Australia, the remarkable Kate Gifford stands out as a paragon of versatility and innovation in myopia management. Her multifaceted career, which includes running a practice, pursuing a PhD, and creating the informative Myopia Profile website, exemplifies the expansive potential of an optometry degree. 

Throughout my decade-long journey in optometry, numerous other figures have also been instrumental in shaping my path. My friends, with their diverse contributions to optometry, constantly motivate me to strive for more, push harder, and reach higher.

Do you mentor other women? Why is it important to support women in optometry?

Yes, I actively mentor my junior optometrists, guiding them to advance their careers through activities like studying, writing case reports, reading, and pursuing fellowships. Empowering women in optometry goes beyond just achieving gender equality; it’s about enriching the profession with diverse perspectives and strengths. My goal in mentoring my junior staff is to cultivate their development and expertise, creating a nurturing and forward-thinking atmosphere. This effort is aimed at shaping a future where talent and innovation are not limited by gender.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 or 10 years?

In five to ten years, I see myself significantly contributing to the growth and recognition of Richard Lindsay & Associates, particularly in the field of specialty contact lens care, and expanding the clinic further. My goal is to complete all the case reports I’ve started, and I am exploring the possibility of furthering my education with an MBA or a PhD.

Balancing my professional and personal life is important to me; I plan to visit my family in Queensland more often. Moreover, I aspire to play a more active role in educating future contact lens specialists. I hope to build an international reputation, continue to lecture, and attend more international conferences.