Alice Olins and Phanella Mayall-Fine of StepUp Club on supercharging your career
- Tell us about the StepUp Club; why you started it and what wealth of experience each of you bring to the company?
We launched the Step Up Club to answer a very specific need, and that is to enhance and help reformulate the careers of women working today. We are modern careers experts; everything that we do is grounded in academic research and packaged with a feminine touch. The long and short of it is that both of us, have endured times in our careers when we felt misunderstood, unable to fulfil our potential, undervalued, underpaid too in Alice’s case, and for Phanella, it became impossible to blend family life with the punishing demands of the City. Separately, we stepped away from our big, glossy jobs and took stock. Together, we decided to drive change. Step Up is all about bringing women together, upskilling and preparing ourselves for the changes that invariably lie ahead in all of our careers.
- What did you feel was missing from the career conversation?
Oh, so much! For one, in the main we still don’t talk about careers with the same style and panache that we do fashion, beauty and wellness. This is unfathomable and wrong. Not just that, but a lot of career development material is still only delivered in boardrooms; we’re all about democratising career development. Which is why we’ve spent the last year creating our unique Step Up School, a brand new online course that launches in June. This 3 month course is designed to get women really understanding what success means to them, before helping to build their confidence, get them networking again, and help untangle the fears that many of us have: networking, mentoring and visioning.
- How are you ‘rebranding’ networking? Is it for everybody?
By talking about it in real terms: networking is just conversations with a purpose. So many of us get hung up on career jargon, and are too fearful to drill down into what these concepts actually mean – and entail. Networking is the simple of act of connecting with people, whether that’s in person or online, to achieve a purpose. Simple and really not that scary when you break it down.
- And tell us about your book – a further extension of these ideas?
Yes our book, and our Step Up Schools – both in person and online – are our ways of really reaching out. We are obsessed with helping women to get to a point where they are passionate about their careers again. We know that so many of us, ourselves included, have reached crossroads in our careers where things have just felt unachievable, not to mention confusing, and depressing too. But careers can, and should, be a pleasure; a source of mental stimulation, independence and financial gain. Step Up is on a mission to get women loving their jobs, even if that means making scary jumps into the unknown, like we did two years ago!
- Is the idea of ‘balance’ a myth? Is there as much to be said for ‘leaning out’ as much as ‘leaning in’?
Balance is a myth, but having time away from the job is a necessity. We need headspace and physical distance from our work to be able to grow and thrive as people. The inevitable amalgamation of work and life thank to social media and the Internet has made the attainment of a distinct separation of the two all but impossible. However, balance is still very much a concept that we value, especially as mothers and women who’s interests and passions extend in myriad directions!
Step Up: Confidence, success and your stellar career in ten minutes a day by Alice Olins and Phanella Mayall-Fine is available now on amazon.co.uk