Interview with Alice Olins and Phanella Mayall Fine, Founders of The Step Up Club
Tell Us About The Step Up Club And Why You Founded It.

The Step Up Club is a careers movement for modern women; we’re all about taking the careers development conversation out of the boardroom and delivering it somewhere accessible, fresh and crucially informative.

Our whole reason for starting the Club and writing our book, was to shake up the careers development industry. With our accredited careers advice and engaging events and content, we are changing the women’s careers landscape.

Our Step Up School, an in-person, year-long program based around monthly half-day meet ups, is completely innovative, and four months in our students are already seeing real changes in their work, and lives. We are currently developing an online version so that we can reach more women and continue to drive change and positivity for females across the world.

What Did You Both Do Pre The Step Up Club?

Phanella started her career as a corporate lawyer at London’s top law firm, before entering the fast-paced world of fund management. She is now an accredited careers coach, with a Masters in Behavioural Therapy.

Alice had a very different pre-Step Up career trajectory; after university she started working as a fashion journalist at The Times newspaper, where she stayed for a decade. She then became the Fashion Features Director at Marie Claire and later Red magazine.

What Are Your Top Career Confidence Hacks?

Keep a Positive Belief Record; so much of our low confidence is wrapped up in our tendency to focus on the negatives in our life. To counter this, we encourage women to keep a note of their daily positives. This can encompass work and beyond, so compliments people pay you, new work opportunities, sporting achievements, really anything that goes well in life. Phanella actually keeps hers digitally in an email folder, her Brag File, while Alice writes hers in one of her favourite notebooks.

The key is to reread your journal at least once a week. By taking time to engage in what’s going well in your life – your achievements – research tells us that it keeps the negativity at bay. And when we contain our negative beliefs, the upshot is that it inevitably drives our self-belief, our confidence.

How Do You Balance Motherhood And Career?

It’s a struggle, but part of the reason that we started Step Up, was to give ourselves flexibility. Often, it isn’t the act of stopping work to do the school pick up, or homework that’s the problem, it’s shutting down the emotional energy – the thinking space – that we carry with us because we have our own business.

This year, our aim is to be able to mentally switch off! A good trick is that we always change clothes when we’re in Mummy mode. Just the act of replacing a smart dress with casual sweats really helps to make this important separation.

What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?

Hard work pays off, but there’s no point in working hard if you don’t communicate your achievements. Success is a blend of getting the job done, and playing the game: prioritise networking, building mentoring relationships and self-development just as you would working through your To Do list.

Where Do You See The Step Up Club In 5 years’ Time?

Ha! Well, we’re planning to reach as many women as possible, so let’s be bold and say that we’ll have a global brand, and plenty of time off to go on fabulous holidays! Dream big, and you’ll get there, that’s what we say!


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