October 24, 2016


Happy New Week! We’re starting our week with some positivity from 2 women we really admire at BORN AT DAWN. They are Phanella Mayall Fine and Alice Olins from The Step Up Club.

 Phanella coaches and trains professionals as an Executive Coach and Development Consultant and Alice is Fashion Features Director-at-Large at Red magazine, along with writing for many other publications.

 They joined forces to create a movement that celebrates women and is a fresh new voice in the women’s career conversation. It is not just focusing on women striving to be a CEO in a large company, it is about supporting women to achieve their own version of career success, whatever that might be.

We were lucky enough to chat to Phanella in BORN AT DAWN FOCUS this week...

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Energetic, Supportive, Happy.

What makes you happy?

So many things - I am definitely an optimist. I do consciously remind myself to be happy in the moment - whether that’s pushing my daughter on the swing, going into an exciting Step Up meeting, a fun dinner with my husband or just hanging out in the garden playing with the whole family.

Seeing our book also always gives me a little lift, whether on the shelves of a bookshop or someone reading it on the tube. The first time I saw that someone had tabbed the book, marking out the sections that resonated most with them, I couldn’t stop smiling - to think that we are having a real impact on people’s lives and careers is an amazing feeling.

 Who and what inspires you?

I have been inspired by strong women in my family. Like Alice, my grandmother was a formidable woman who lived life to the full and on her own terms. My mother is incredibly supportive of Step Up - she has been to every one of our events! - and her energy is endless. My mother in law is also a huge career influence - she has had a big corporate job involving huge teams and lots of travel but yet always manages to be there for her 4 children and 5 grandchildren. I take inspiration from their authenticity, drive and concern for others every day.

How do you define success?

Success to me is doing something I believe in and making a difference but being balanced as well. I want to be there for both my work and my family and feel very privileged to have created a career that makes both possible.

You are obviously very busy, how do you cope and manage to juggle it all?  

The last few months have probably been the busiest of our lives. With day jobs, Step Up and our children, the other aspects of our lives (husbands included!) have barely had a look in. It’s been tiring and stressful at times but being in a strong partnership has made a big difference.

We are good at being strict with each other when we need to do less and two heads are definitely better than one when it comes to prioritising what needs to be done vs what can definitely be put off for a less busy day!

Despite that, there are obviously days when I don’t feel I’m juggling very well - like everyone who is trying to balance, I miss something at home or don’t give 100% at work and feel I have failed. The important thing is to maintain perspective. You can’t have it all and you don’t need to be perfect. As long as you are doing your best, that’s good enough.

 What’s been your biggest lesson?

It’s never too late to reinvent your career. When I left my first career as a lawyer, I thought at 27 that I was too old to go back to the beginning in completely different job so I went into banking, which allowed me to build on my legal career rather than go back to square one. When I then had children and realised banking wouldn’t give me the balance I wanted, I again looked around for something I could build onto my previous careers. Coaching came out of a desire to combine my natural tendency to listen and advise with my previous careers and I now mainly coach in law firms and banks. I’ve been able to progress as a result but, with hindsight, I could have started again at 27 or again at 30. Neither would have been too late and nor would it be too late now. I am lucky that through Step Up, I’ve been able to craft a portfolio career that uniquely fits my life needs and interests but I equally know now that I could have started again and everything would have been fine.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received along the way?

When we interviewed her for our book, Mel Hemsley warned us against comparison, particularly looking at successful people and thinking they’ve done things overnight. I have a tendency to want everything to happen now and be very hard on myself as a result. She reminded us that it took years of private cooking and then another few years of blogging and promotion before Hemsley & Hemsley were a brand that everyone knew. I remind myself of that when I am pushing too hard. It gives me permission to take a breath and know that I can still achieve what I want in time.

 If you’ve enjoyed learning about Step Up Club their fantastic new book ‘Step Up: Confidence, success and your stellar career in 10 minutes a day’ is out now. With inspirational stories, ‘kick-up-the-bum’ career advice and mini career workouts to help you take charge of your career.

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