08 August 2017

Meet Step Up Club's Alice and Phanella

Women Who Can brings together Karen Millen and Step Up Club, the frontrunner in modern, sassy female career development. Embodying a shared ethos of female empowerment, our mission is simple: to give you the confidence and inspiration to be your best self.

Founded and run by career experts Alice Olins and Phanella Mayall Fine – whose combined jobs to date include broadsheet journalism, corporate law, fashion consultancy, fund management and executive coaching – Step Up Club isn’t just modernising the women’s career conversation, it’s broadcasting its message of self-belief and practical determination through every corner of today’s workplace… and beyond.

Step Up Club’s stance is simple: we all deserve, and can achieve, great careers and we get there through confidence and resolve. Alice and Phanella help women achieve this through thought-provoking conversation, practical advice and stylish events.

To launch a series of interviews with our inspiring Women Who Can, the duo take five from their jam-packed schedules to talk happiness, balance and their proudest work moments.

As a little girl, my father instilled in me the mantra, “try, try and try again” and it’s something I’ve always held close.

Alice Olins

Phanella asks Alice

My proudest work moment...

I have a handful I hold very dear:
1. Getting my first fashion writing gig at The Times alongside my then boss, and now mentor, Lisa Armstrong.
2. Being signed by our agents; it felt very grown up and was a vital milestone for Step Up – someone very important and influential believed in us.
3. Selling all the tickets to our newest venture, Step Up School, in less than 12 hours.

The secret skill you don't know I have is...

Creative thinking as I fall asleep. My husband will testify to the quick jump up from the other side of the bed as I nip to my notebook to scribble that thought for the next morning.

I am happiest when...

I'm being kind. I laugh the most with my friends, my heart swells the hardest when I'm snuggled into my daughters and I’m most complete when I'm with my husband. But happiness, when I boil it down, is about gentle kindness to others.

If I hadn't done this, I would have...

Been a ballerina. My ballet training as a teenager was a discipline and a rite of passage. It showed me that women can be everything: hard and soft, strong and fragile, expressive and contained.

When I need inspiration I...

Read. The joy of a novel that takes you away from yourself is like nothing else. Plus, as a journalist and now a career expert working closely with women, there's nothing I like better than hearing what other people think about!

Alice asks Phanella

My all time best work day...

Being offered our first book deal by our dream publisher will be pretty hard to top. And I’ll never forget the combination of pride and disbelief we felt holding the first actual copy of our book in our hands.

I admire in myself the ability to...

Go for what I want. As a little girl, my father instilled in me the mantra, “try, try and try again” and it’s something I’ve always held close. When I form a goal, I know there will be setbacks along the way and, usually, I have no idea how I’ll get there, but I’m always quietly confident I’ll achieve it in the end.

When I think about work, my heart says...

Have fun. I coach too many women for whom fun has become something they have outside of work. Sometimes it’s a small tweak to how you structure your time, sometimes a bigger change to your role or working environment. Check in with yourself periodically: “am I having fun?”. It’s a game changer.

My life is best when...

I have balance. Home, family and friends are completely central to who I am. But so is ambition, achievement and drive. When work is exciting but I also have time for life, that’s when I’m happiest.

If I had a mathematical work style formula, it would read:

Well-cut dress + great heels – blisters = confident work me.

Read the mission statement Meet the #Women Who Can

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