1 December, 2022

Lowood pharmacist wins retail manager award

LOWOOD Advantage Pharmacy retail manager Kristy Ironside had the honour of being named Retail Manager of the Year through the Owen Pharmacy Group.

Chris Owen (owner and CEO of Pharmacy Guild of Australia) with Retail Manager of the Year, Kristy Ironside (Lowood Advantage Pharmacy).
Chris Owen (owner and CEO of Pharmacy Guild of Australia) with Retail Manager of the Year, Kristy Ironside (Lowood Advantage Pharmacy).

Kristy received the award at a dinner and awards night at Byron Bay on Saturday, November 19.

Candidates were from a range of locations between Brisbane and Toowoomba while awards included Pharmacy of the Year (awarded to Dalby), Pharmacist of the Year (Warwick), and Retail Manager of the Year (Kristy).

In a follow-up interview with the Somerset Sentinel News, Kristy said with a laugh that it felt “weird” to win the award.

“I didn’t even know I was nominated,” she said.

“I’ve got a great team around me.

“Without the strong team we have built, I don’t think I would have won the award.”

Kristy said her position was “definitely a challenge”, particularly when flooding hit the town.

“We experienced local flooding to the area, and this caused so much damage to the local residents’ house(s),” she said.

“As staff were also affected, some experienced their own house being flooded or access roads being cut off and this led to people having no access to the pharmacy.

“We wanted to help get locals back on their feet, so the Advantage Team put together hampers which included pots and pans, basic kitchen items and other supplies to help the locals as the closest main shops are in Ipswich.

“We unfortunately did experience negative comments on Facebook as to why doors weren’t open, but this extreme weather event did leave staff affected and some have lost their belongings as well.

“We are planning to the best of our ability when we get notified of local flooding to be more prepared.

“We experience a lot of challenges in pharmacy, and I like a challenge. If I didn’t have that, I think I would get bored.”

Kristy said covid was another challenging time for the pharmacy, and that the introduction of covid tests and vaccinations “put added stress on staff with increase in staff shortages due to the constant strains of covid coming into pharmacies”.

“With all these challenges, the pharmacy has come (in) leap and bounds and will continue to grow,” she said.

Kristy, who travels from Ipswich to Lowood for work, began her career in the pharmacy industry about 17 years ago. She said it was difficult at first, particularly when learning about the rehabilitation side to pharmacy and all the different medications.

“There is a lot to learn when people’s lives are at stake,” she said.

“I wondered what I’d gotten myself into, but I was up for the challenge.”

Kristy not only survived but also thrived as she worked at numerous pharmacies between Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast, before changing direction with her career.

After working in childcare for five years and having two children of her own, Kristy returned to the pharmacy scene as she felt this was her preferred career path after all.

Kristy began her role as retail manager at the Lowood-based pharmacy a little over 12 months ago and has not looked back. She said she has met some lovely locals, and that that’s why she enjoyed working in country towns.

Working in regional pharmacies has enabled Kristy to get to know a lot of customers who visit the pharmacy repeatedly, while she said there was always unpredictability because one would never know what was needed each time someone entered the store.

As for the key to doing a good job, Kristy reiterated “having a strong team”.

“Without a good team I wouldn’t be here, that’s for sure,” she said.

Kristy described herself as “a bit of a jack-of-all-trades” and that that’s how she liked to manage the team.

“I don’t like to be stuck behind a desk all day,” she said.

“You often find me on the pharmacy floor serving customers instead of being behind my desk.

“It’s good for everyone to have variety, and this enables the staff to continue to grow and learn, rather than do the same thing every day.”

Changes at Lowood Advantage Pharmacy during Kristy’s time there have included the reopening of the café, and introduction of the sleep apnoea clinic.

Kristy said plans for the coming year included introducing flu vaccinations, diabetes clinics, and sun awareness month clinics.

“These clinics will be covered through the year, and we hope this encourages locals to put their health first,” she said.

“We want to offer services in the pharmacy you can’t get locally, so people don’t have to travel for them.

“Lowood is a beautiful country town, and the growth in the last 12 months has been exciting, and (I) can’t wait to see what next year brings.”


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