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Spotlight on Staff: From Law to GM

Here at Lux Group we love celebrating hard work and determination, and the amazing journey those two characteristics can take you on. Daniel Kitay started at Lux Group (then AussieCommerce Group) in February 2014 as a Customer Service and Sales Rep for Luxury Escapes. Fast forward to today and he’s stepping into his new role as General Manager – Affiliate Business.

So how did he get there? From a Law Degree to General Manager and everything in between, here Daniel shares his journey…

Growing up in Perth and now residing in Sydney, I’ve spent over 10 years getting involved in many organisations, businesses and projects in an effort to soak up as much knowledge and gain experience.

University & the Australasian Union of Jewish Students

During my first year of university, in 2006, I joined the Australiasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) as a General Executive Member. By 2007 I was their Social Co-ordinator and in 2008 I was elected the WA President. It was at this time, at age 19, I figured I should apply for the National President role in Melbourne the following year, I had nothing to lose and all to gain. I won the election and moved to Melbourne in 2009 where I managed national, state and university executives, as well as fostered relationships with university guilds, philanthropists, community organisations, politicians etc. I was twenty and was also managing the AUJS Board made up of past Presidents and professionals.

During this time with AUJS, I had the opportunity to attend a 6-week global leadership program visiting New York, Washington, Israel and Turkey. We met with key community and political leaders to understand the good (and bad!) of their communities and what we might learn from them. I was also privileged to attend many global delegations and fostered relationships with John Howard, Julia Gillard, Peter Costello, Christopher Pyne and more.

I finished university in Perth with a commerce degree, but didn’t really know what I wanted to do.  I never really considered being a lawyer however I figured that if I studied law and subsequently became a lawyer then whatever path I take, I have satisfied my parents need for a good education. And even if I decided to open a burger joint, I’d be a lawyer, and that would presumably help me at some point.

An introduction to Lux Group

I guess AUJS and 9 years of university education were all about preparation. After finishing my law degree I interned and clerked at a number of firms before deciding a legal profession wasn’t for me.

The big city lights of Melbourne were calling my name, so I packed my bags (again!) and hopped on a plane. I called one of my old contacts from the AUJS board who told me about this new business, AussieCommerce as they were looking to hire some staff. This was at least five years after I’d finished working on the board, but you never know when someone you meet is going to be able to give you a helping hand!

Customer Service to General Manager

February of 2014 I started at Lux Group, but the only role available was a Customer Service/Sales Rep for Luxury Escapes. They’d just bought the business, it was an exciting start up and I thought e-commerce was a long-term play. I took the available role and spent the next 12 months working incredibly hard, providing the best customer service, selling the most amount of LE deals and contributing to the office culture. I would often go home thinking ‘what am I doing?’ but later realised it was what they call ‘doing the hard yards’.

Lux provided me with the opportunity to manage the 70-person Customer Service team across all the Lux businesses, as well as the Luxury Escapes sales team. I said “absolutely” and I worked as hard as I could, with crazy hours for 12 months.

After discussing my professional development with our CEO Adam, I once again was offered  a new opportunity; managing a beauty subscription business that Lux acquired a short-time before. I stepped up to the foreign, and very daunting, General Manager role, taking full financial and operational responsibility. I spent countless hours learning about female beauty and the inner workings of a subscription business.

I completed the turn-around project within 12 months and managed to convert a struggling business into a stable and viable business. I also know far more about lipstick then I ever thought I would!

Looking forward

This accomplishment brought a new opportunity for me and the business. This month I’ve moved forward into a new role; General Manager for the Lux Group Affiliate Business – Spreets, PINCHme and other marketing projects.

I guess the point is, that despite not ever dreaming of working in customer service or sales for Luxury Escapes – I saw the big picture. That big picture was a start up business that would eventually become a mature, viable and successful e-commerce company.

Because I saw the big picture, I was focused and determined no matter what job or what money was thrown at me. I look back on my role in CS and the low wage as an opportunity that most graduates (especially law) would snub and turn away from instantly.

Get involved

My eagerness to get involved and gain new experiences extends beyond my role at Lux Group. When I moved to Sydney in early 2016, I contacted the head of the Food Distribution Network (FDN) – a local Sydney not-for-profit organisation distributing fresh fruit and veges to the elderly and disabled. Charity, as well as food/cooking is a huge passion of mine and was something I was keen to become more involved with.

I was told that it wasn’t great timing because with changes to government funding they were winding up the organisation – however they provided me with the opportunity to join anyway. Once again, I figured I had nothing to lose, at worst I could meet some nice people and learn about how to wind up a not-for-profit organisation. I decided to join and spent the next 12 months on this Board, successfully managing the windup process (as good as it can be!)

It just so happened that FDN rented premises from Secondbite, one of the largest food waste not-for-profits who work with Coles and distributed 7 million kilograms of fresh food last year. I organised a coffee with the CEO of Secondbite and we spent a couple of hours discussing the organisation and its challenges. I currently sit on the NSW Advisory Committee for Secondbite. There is no doubt in my mind that my knowledge gained at FDN was one of their reasons for inviting me onto this committee.

Experience leads to opportunity

I truly believe the experiences I had from AUJS and FDN were the preparation I needed for the opportunities that awaited me at both Lux and Secondbite. My philosophy is: ‘Luck doesn’t just happen… luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’  

All this preparation wouldn’t mean much without opportunities being presented. Lux Group has been fantastic at providing me with an array of opportunities (sometimes well beyond my years) but the same principal prevails – work hard, figure it out and keep moving forward.

Interested in progressing your career with Lux Group? Why not check out our current Career Opportunities.