Before she took on the role of scheduling coordinator at Caggiano Orthodontics, Parsippany, NJ, Alyse Wisneski worked in retail management for more than a decade. In that time, she wore a number of proverbial hats in her day-to-day duties, but with one defining element that made her thrive: the interaction with customers.

Wisneski worked in a department store that catered to the wants and needs of girls, aged six to 12, and found a certain level of pride and commitment to what she was doing. “I loved working with the girls to help them find an outfit that made them feel confident and strong,” she explains.

After several years of being a champion in her field, Wisneski was recruited by a larger, nation-wide retailer for the role of co-manager. “Changing jobs is a big decision, and I had learned from past experience that if I don’t believe in what I am doing, and if I don’t believe in the company I am working for, I cannot thrive there,” she explains. “At the interview, I made sure that the company was one that had a mission to make girls feel strong and empowered, no matter what size or shape they were; because kids face enough adversity.”

Wisneski was hired, and within 4 years, she was promoted to store manager. In her new role, she was responsible for a team that fluctuated between 15 and 25 associates. “I loved teaching my staff how to handle any customer service situation they could run across, and empowering them to take on challenges in work life and in real life. It was so rewarding to see the staff that I developed be rewarded for their hard work with promotions, time and again. Over the years, I learned that the biggest challenges often turned into the best successes.”

Wisneski worked with the company for 9 years before she realized it was time for a change. Her role had evolved to being strictly behind the scenes, training other team members in the ins-and-outs of customer service and how to motivate them to their fullest potential. “While this role had its rewards, I missed the interaction with the customers, and I missed the excitement of learning,” she explains.

Wisneski decided to seek out other opportunities. That’s when she came across a friend who told her about a position in an orthodontic office. “We talked about the challenges of learning about orthodontics, and everything about the position I would be taking on. We had an in-depth, 3-hour interview. She got me excited about the field, the position, and about working for Dr Caggiano.”

Prior to her first day at the orthodontic office, Wisneski was concerned about going from a position of complete security—where she had all the answers either in her head or at her fingertips—to a position where everything was unknown.

“I had to change gears from being the boss to being a support member of the team, and I am still thrilled about that,” she explains. “I love being a part of such a helpful and dynamic team. And I love knowing that I am making people’s work lives easier,” she explains. “Dr Caggiano made sure I had all the tools I needed to learn about orthodontics so I could speak confidently about the process and equipment. My co-workers were generous with their time and helped answer my questions, making the transition much easier.”

It didn’t take long for Wisneski to learn the ropes, and soon she was falling back on her skills from her past career in retail. “Time management and prioritization are skills that are huge in managing the flow of patients and planning the schedule, as well as my other tasks,” she explains.

“My background in customer service translates well to handling patients. The structure I learned from retail management has helped me adapt to the standards in place at Caggiano Orthodontics, and has helped me refine standards to maximize efficiency as well as results. The communication skills I learned have translated well to developing great relationships with my co-workers and our patients. Adaptability is a skill that is helpful in both work environments and aids in using all of these other skills to my advantage.”

Now completely comfortable in her role in orthodontics, Wisneski reflects on her career path, the overlap of skills, and how she’s benefited from both professions. “Retail management taught me more than I could ever imagine possible,” Wisneski says. “My role in retail meant a dedication to developing my staff and myself, engaging in exceptional customer services practices, and ensuring the creation and execution of all systems to ensure the store runs smoothly and generates a profit. These skills have come in extremely handy in my role at Caggiano Orthodontics.” OP