Q&A with Phanella Mayall Fine


Phanella is one of my very best (& oldest!) friends and a constant source of inspiration and advice.

Phanella and her business partner Alice set up Step Up Club to help women find their own success in the workplace. The Step Up Club is a fresh new voice in the conversation about women’s careers and their book “Step Up” is the ultimate career self-help guide.

Witnessing the amazing success of Step Up Club is one of the reasons I started on Instagram, as I saw how it could act as a great way to spread a positive message.

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.

Their Karen Millen X Step Up collaboration ‘Women Who Can’ campaign is running across the UK promoting success, resilience, confidence and balance. Most recently they have launched Step Up School, a one year programme to learn better, connect harder and grow stronger; and who better to learn from than two women who have done it themselves!

I’m so impressed at everything Phanella and Alice have achieved. They promote an important message (in a fun and engaging way) and they’re proof of how well partnerships can work and what two women can achieve when they work together.

I love their mantra of ‘Stop Dreaming Start Doing’ and it’s certainly something they put into practice every day.

Thanks for being part of my blog series Phan!

What is your motto for life?

“Yes You Can.”

I truly believe that if you set your mind to something, there is a way to achieve it. When I make up my mind to pursue a goal, I am always quietly confident I will achieve that goal in some form – although I usually don’t know how I’ll get there or what form success will take!

What is your current destination?

My goal is for Step Up to become the go to voice for career advice – initially in the UK but eventually worldwide (why not aim high?!). I want to empower women to embrace their own definition of success, feel more confident and develop the practical skills to achieve their goals. And, crucially, I want them – and me – to have fun along the way.

What advice do you have for your 16-year old self?

Follow your own dreams, not somebody else’s.

As a teenager, it’s so easy to be swayed by other people’s opinions on your career path – you desperately want to fit in with friends or please your parents. The irony is that this desire to please others rarely leads to career fulfilment. When you give yourself permission to focus on what YOU actually want, happiness is immediately easier to achieve.

What three things are you most grateful for today?

My children, my husband, my positive outlook on life.

What are your natural highs?

Honestly, a brilliant work win makes me feel amazing – for me, the litmus test of whether I am succeeding at work, is whether the projects and events we’re working on make me feel good. But work isn’t always exciting and I am really careful in amongst the craziness of combining my own business and 3 kids to take time for myself – it’s so important to me to practice what I preach to other women. Exercise always makes me feel amazing, particularly when it’s in a beautiful space – my weekly Pilates class is sacrosanct and I am a ski addict. I love taking on a project with my kids – baking a cake, making a craft project, geocaching in the woods – it’s always exciting to see them learning and enjoying something new. Finally, I love talking! I know if I haven’t made time for a phone chat or dinner catch up with friends or family for a week or two, I start to feel depleted, so I try to factor this in whenever possible as well.

What gives your life balance?

Balance for me is about time, but it’s also about focus and energy. If I spend an afternoon with my children but my brain is 100% on work then I’m not being balanced (or fair to them or myself). Evening working is a hazard of starting up but, except in exceptional circumstances, I switch off my laptop at 9pm each evening and try to stop looking at my phone around the same time. It’s not highbrow, but I always unwind in front of a good tv drama if I’m not out with friends and when I do go to bed, I always read a novel for at least half an hour before I switch off the light.

What makes you laugh?

Currently: my kids, Grace & Frankie on Netflix and reminiscing with old friends.

What is your proudest achievement?

It’s cheesy but my three kids being (mostly) happy and engaged feels great. I am also incredibly proud of what Alice and I have built with the Step Up Club in the last year.

Tell us something we don’t know about you?

I am a serious ski junkie. I used to race and now climb glaciers, ski tour at high altitude and watch extreme ski vids whenever I can!

You can find out more about the Step Up Club and their programme of events on their website or on instagram, twitter and facebook.

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