Five minutes with Sofia Carbognin, the General Manager at OCL Vision

Each month, we spend five minutes with one of the impressive professionals that call Harley Street home. This month we’re meeting Sofia Carbognin, Business Manager at OCL Vision.

Can you tell us a little bit about your work at OCL Vision?

OCL Vision is a private eyecare clinic which offers specialist consultations, diagnostics, laser eye surgery and lens surgical treatments such as cataract and retina, through state of the art technology. I started working here as an intern in 2021, right after the breakout of the pandemic. At the time I had just completed my Undergraduate Degree from King’s College and was looking for a part-time work experience in the healthcare management sector. I realised straight away that OCL Vision was the place for me as I love making a tangible difference in patients’ lives. At the beginning I had a role of ‘Business Support’. I was assisting the COO in her day-to-day leadership and general management, as well as participating in meetings with the clinic digital marketing experts and PR team. I was arranging meetings, preparing agendas and leading on various projects, like the partnership with Dottore London, an Italian medical centre that refers Italian patients to Italian specialists in London. I kept this role and worked part-time for the clinic while doing my Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management at Imperial College. By June this year, having completed all my assignments for the course, I was promoted to Business Manager.

Describe your average day.

My days are never the same and this is what I love about my job! I am currently managing any front of house issues and queries, including maintenance, repairs, servicing, key management and contracts of the building. I look at the current and future facilities-related needs of the clinic and explore ways to address them. I lead the Front of House Team in both London and Elstree sites. I also deal with the stock management of the clinic, looking into solutions to keep up with a growing demand. I look into marketing opportunities to increase the reach of the business. I manage the diaries, monitoring available capacity and organising additional clinics and theatre capacity where required. I allocate the rooms to ensure a good and efficient flow of the clinic. On a daily basis, I also ensure the clinic is complying to the CQC standards.

How did you get to where you are today?

Ambition, dedication and hard work have been the pillars of my journey until now. My family has also played a huge role. My parents are both doctors and I was always fascinated by how rewarding working in the healthcare sector can be. I moved to the UK from my hometown in Italy when I was 16 and since then I started my journey into achieving a managerial position within the healthcare sector. After completing my Undergraduate Degree from King’s College with First Class Honours, I started a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management at Imperial College. While doing my Master’s I was also working part time for OCL Vision. Doing both at the same time has been extremely challenging but also proved to myself that anything is achievable if you are 100% committed to it. Now at an age of 22, I am proud to say I am exactly where I want to be.

How has Covid-19 impacted your organisation?

The clinic was forced to close in early 2020 as part of the UK national lockdown. Like many other private healthcare organizations, OCL Vision faced an uncertain future. With ongoing business costs, it was challenging to see how the practice would survive unless patients gained back the confidence to come physically to the clinic when the lockdown was lifted. Appropriate infection control and social distancing measures were implemented from the very beginning of the pandemic, in all our clinics. Processes were streamlined and the website and newsletters were updated with relevant information. We also started offering virtual consultations, which are still available to our patients. After the lockdown ended, social media has been a very useful channel to announce that the practice was open and ready to help with the appropriate safety measures in place. Thanks to the actions taken during the lockdown, our current outlook is bright, with demand surging across all our specialty areas.

What do you like most about being based on Harley Street?

Being based in Harley Street is a great opportunity to network. Participating to the events organised by the Harley Street BID I met so many professionals and found ways to support each other and work together. It is an area that gives a true sense of community.  It also offers a learning environment. Finally, I believe that being based in Harley Street offers businesses and professionals the competitive advantage of being located in such a sophisticated and unique area.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Harley Street Area?

There is so much potential. Being part of the Public Realm & Wayfinding steering committee, I have seen all the good initiatives that are planned for the area. Public spaces are being improved and through maps and areas where to sit, it will become easier for residents and visitors to navigate around. Moreover, creating green spaces and appointing a street cleaning team will make it more enjoyable for people to walk around, improving their wellbeing. Wondering in the Harley Street Area will become a real experience.

How does the Harley Street BID support your business?

The Harley Street BID supports OCL Vision by improving the area where the clinic is based and that patients visit every time they come in for treatment. It also makes it easier for our patients to navigate their way around and find our clinic. Especially having a lot of older patients coming to see us for vision problems it is crucial for us to be in an area that can support them and their journey to us. In general, our patients notice how this area stands out from the rest of the city and we do receive a lot of positive feedback from it.

How could a visitor to the area spend their time here?

There is so much to do in the area, you cannot get bored! First of all, there are plenty of coffee shops and restaurant where to stop by for great coffee, juices and delicious food. Especially Marylebone High St offers a wide range of these. It is also great as a shopping area, for both accessories and clothing. In terms of wellness, there a quite a few Spa’s, nail beauticians, hair dressers and gyms. Finally, on a sunny day it would be a pity not to have a walk through Regent’s Park.

Any particular recommendations or hidden gems?

There are so many places I love in the area. A hidden gem and ideal for a quick lunch is The Great THAI. I love pad thai and this one I must say is exceptional. Another spot for a quick healthy lunch is SOULI which offers sandwiches and various salads. I recently discovered 2 veneti, which is an Italian restaurant that offers recipes from Veneto, the region where I am from. I must say I was surprised by how good and authentic the food was!

If you could describe the Harley Street area in three words, what would they be? 

Thriving, rewarding and motivating