Series: What’s in Your Toolkit? 8 – The Step Up Club

I am buzzing with excitement to share with you the next in the series….[excitement klaxon!!]: the ladies from The Step Up Club. I’ve been following these two since their book launched last year, and I can safely say have become a bit of a mega fan. Their book has – no word of a lie – changed my life by very simply altering my perception of my career strengths, confidence, networks.

I personally have had a tendency to self-sabotage in career matters in the past. Being an introvert with a hefty dollop of shyness/social anxiety on the side, I’ve historically relied on the hope that my natural talents will somehow shine through and be plucked out by employers without me having to wave a flag to draw attention to myself. I only now realise how wrong I have been! If only I’d had this book 10 years ago…..

Their book is the new essential women’s career manual: Step Up: Confidence, Success and Your Stellar Career in 10 Minutes a Day. They also run stylish events, online content and an inspiring newsletter. The Step Up Club offers you tools for tapping into your unique talents, alongside robust mental health strategies drawn from CBT,  as well as beautiful shoe inspiration and the reddest of red lipstick: all this with the aim of making women feel empowered, boost their skill set and broaden their network to really love their work and life.

The Step Up Club champions and celebrates all women – whatever your job. I’m a freelance writer and Pilates teacher, and have always felt slightly neither here nor there when it comes to ‘career direction’ – and it certainly never occurred to me that ‘career advice’ could ever be useful to me until I stumbled upon these two and their wonderful book. Finding inspiration from The Step Up Club I’ve realised that whatever your career focus, if you’re a woman in any kind of work, the tools they offer are indispensable.

Phanella is a former lawyer and banker who retrained as an executive career coach, working on women’s leadership and diversity with all kind of big companies as well as individuals. Alice is a former fashion features editor at The TimesMarie Claire and Red, who continues to write freelance for many of the broadsheets and glossies. Between them they have five children. I wanted to find out more about these inspiring ladies.


The Step Up Club is the realisation of a shared passion for women – simple. We are old friends – Phanella is married to one of my friends from my teenage years – and every time that we bumped into each other at parties or the like, we ended up talking about our careers and their place in the general landscape of women in the workplace.

We realised that despite our different work journeys – Phanella hails from the corporate world, I’m a journalist – that we shared an interest in building a platform that gave all women a place to learn practical careers skills and meet other women, from all walks of career life. Careers advice and support is vital for all of us to succeed in whatever form that success takes, and yet, many of us still thinking of career advice and networking clubs as something quite dry and impenetrable. Step Up is a fresh new voice in the women’s careers conversation.


I would say that our empathy and our overactive minds might feel like a poisoned chalice, but when we employee both to our advantage they make us an incredibly powerful force.

Being self-aware, which many women are, is an under acknowledged weapon in the success armoury because when we know ourself, we are able to leverage on our strengths, communicate honestly and know when to look to others for support.


I would say friendship and support – building a start up, not to mention writing a book, are daunting tasks that involve plenty of ups and downs. Because there are two of us and we know and trust each other implicitly, it helps us fend off the stresses and hold onto the joys.

You have 5 children between you – true Supermums! How do you balance kids and work? 

Oh my goodness, where do we start! Well practically speaking we use our support networks – so that involves a bit of paid help, some generous parents and parents-in-law and a pair of understanding husbands. In terms of the everyday, there’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and trying to quickly compartmentalise work when we’re with the kids and vice versa when it’s work time.

Recently we started working for one long day a week, rather than trying to completely fit around the school pick up and that has had a really positive impact on our balance, because we are able to be more productive for longer and then switch off with more conviction!

We recently wrote a blog post about the difference between practical everyday balance, and balance inside our heads! There are so many ways to assess and manage balance, and I think the point is that it runs deeper than just outsourcing the kids when we need to work.


It’s simple, schedule Me Time. When we are pregnant and have just had a baby, especially when it comes to returning to work, often women forget about themselves in the stressful mix of new pressures on their lives. This is a mistake and one that can have a detrimental effect on our happiness – and mental health.

We say, just one gym class, a glass of wine with a friend, anything that carves out a bit of time for yourself is vital to remaining happy and feeling good about all the changes taking place in your life.

Who/what are your personal wellness gurus/favourite books/mantras to live by?

Us! We say that your success is unique to you, and that means not comparing yourself to other women. This is such a simple but powerful mantra and one that we often don’t live by, because of the lure of pretty, unattainable images on Instagram and the like.

Be yourself, you are amazing!

Step Up Club are giving away a free excerpt of their brilliant book. Click here.

#parenting #mother #CBT #motherhood #lifecoaching #balance #confidence #wellbeing #Career #socialmedia #stepupclub #selfesteem #careerdevelopment

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