Head of Learning & Development at Lovisa
Sometimes you stumble across a woman that just gives you everything. Inspiration, wisdom, online shopping urges… etc, etc. That is how I felt 12 months ago when the glorious Kylie Smart popped into my social media orbit. Not only is this woman incredibly stylish (like add to cart stylish) but, she is also one super switched on boss.
Kylie is the Head of Learning & Development at Lovisa – that jewellery brand with over 400 stores across the world. HUGE. She is also a mumma, good human and passionate about helping young women make impact.
This interview is soooooooooo good. Kylie didn’t go to Uni, she didn’t go to TAFE, she is built by experience, passion and grit. Yep! Kylie is your 2020 poster girl for getting sh*t done and we are all for her tips, hacks and advice for anyone wanting to follow in her footsteps, or pave their own.
Please meet your new career crush, Kylie Smart.
Where did you grow up and how did your experience shape the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I grew up in a coastal town called Port Macquarie. I was very lucky to grow up in such a beautiful town which had a strong beach and surfing boarding culture. Career opportunities were minimal in a small town so I had to take the leap and move – I moved to the Gold Coast so I could still live by the sea.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be lawyer or marine biologist…so different I know! I decided to take a year off and work after I finished high school, that’s when I fell in love with retail and the rest is history!
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to Port Macquarie High School. I was obsessed with performing arts, dancing and anything chemistry or biology related…weird combo haha! I distinctly remember a couple of teachers I had who inspired a fire within me. From that moment onwards my determination and drive kicked in. I am sure you have heard the expression to “take someone under your wing”…this is so important. When you find someone along your journey that inspires and motivates you, listen, pay attention – put in practice what they are teaching you and ask for feedback.
Also, I think school overall can be challenging for most teenagers – there are so many elements going on.
I moved out of home when I was 15 years old – so sticking at it (school), doing my homework, studying took sheer drive and commitment. It was definitely hard at times juggling this, but it was all worth it. I found school to be really character building and with so many wonderful memories made with my friends who I am still close with today.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
To be honest, I remember being 16 having to choose what subjects I was going to take on in Year 11 and 12 and felt quite overwhelmed. I look back on this and wish that I knew that this won’t necessarily be the be all and end all. It can be opportunity to deep dive into your interests to discover if that is a path you want to take but also remember you can change course if it doesn’t feel right for you after high school.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
I did work experience with a fashion retailer…this was when I fell in love with retail. Once my work experience finished, I offered to work for a few months for free in her store to continue to gain more experience. The hard work paid off as she wrote me a great reference which helped me land my first job.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I never studied. Everything I have learned is from on the job experience, reading books, attending seminars/conferences and spending time alongside my mentors.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights?
My first job was working for Go-lo which was a discount variety store. After 4 years I left and started working for Diva and this was when my career starting to take off. By the time I was 19 years old I was a Regional Manager on the Gold Coast. I was approached by the CEO of Lovisa to join their newly growing business. They had about 20 stores at the time – I realised there was a huge amount of opportunity to grow with the brand and learn a hell of lot! Soon after I was promoted to other roles such as State Manager, Country Manager of Singapore, and Malaysia. I returned to Australia and was then promoted to National Sales Manager of New Zealand, QLD, VIC and ACT. My most current role is Head of Learning and Talent Development Manager supporting Australia, NZ, Asia, USA, South Africa, UK, Spain and France. During this time I have also had two children.
Career highlights for me firstly have been mentoring and coaching many of leaders that we have today in senior leadership roles across the business around the world, the awards/acknowledgments and being able to travel the world and be a part of global expansion.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
Started on the shop floor and worked my way up. Made it known to my leaders that I wanted to grow and have a career with them.
What is the hardest part of your current job?
Learning and Development is continually evolving, and you are always looking for ways to raise the bar, connect and stay relevant when you are delivering training, coaching and mentoring programs to a global brand. Also keeping in mind– everyone does not learn the same way. Lovisa is also in two non-English speaking countries so everything we create needs to be re-created in other languages.
I love my job so much that switching off can be challenging at times – when you are enjoying what you are doing it doesn’t feel like ‘work’.
What does a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
Starting the day with connecting with each person in our team to see how they are. I will have an “all in” and one on one meetings with our team to discuss daily/weekly/future focuses, achievements, hurdles or projects.
I will spend a large portion building and creating training and coaching content whether it is for our weekly communications tools, in-store/online learning training platform, new projects, conferences, or Product Roadshows.
You will also find me out in our stores regularly alongside the team mentoring and coaching. I will also have zoom video conference calls with leaders from around the world who are a part of our leadership programs. There are also times where I will be facilitating and presenting at product roadshows or conferences in AUS, USA or UK or could be launching new initiatives.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
I have had great mentors over the years – Shane Fallscheer, Brett Blundy, Lisa Broadby and Stacey Christie. They would always give me their time to share a story, paint the picture and offering wisdom from their own experiences.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
To be successful in Learning and Development I have found that it has paid off working my way up from the shop floor through to senior roles that I have held. This has given me the foundation to be able to understand each role, how to perform at a high level and build successful teams. There is no substitute for hard work – consistency is key.
Take control of your own development, don’t wait for someone to teach you. Read books, listen to podcasts and ask your leaders/people for experience to spend time alongside them. Lastly, say YES to opportunities. It takes a few side steps in places that you may not think you want to go to get you to where you want to be. I lived in other states, countries to land in my dream role.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
- Favourite Websites: www.ilovepdf.com that is my fav from a work perspective. Soooo helpful! Youtube – pretty much anything you want to learn you can find on there.
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: Business Chicks, Time or any of my favourite brands for fashion inspo – Sir, Rowie The Label, Faithfull the Brand.
- Favourite Podcast: Embarrassingly I am a little late on this train and have a list of ones I need to listen to! Before podcasts I would listen to audio books while I was driving to make the most of car time.
- Favourite Netflix/Stan/ Series: Outlander on Netflix
- Who is your mentor? (This can be a person you follow for advice, or an IRL person). Shane Fallscheer (Director of Lovisa, previous mentors. Lisa Broadby (previous State Manager) and Stacey Christie (previous National Manager)
- Favourite all time book/s: QBQ “Question behind the Question” – great book on leadership and how to understand problems/hurdles that are taking place in front of you and getting to the root causes.