Two Smart Women Week speak­ers on switch­ing things up

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An un­spo­ken truth among al­most all women is that we will reach a tricky cross­roads at some point in our ca­reers, when we feel a need to re­assess. It can feel in­cred­i­bly painful at the time. But old ways will not de­liver any of us to new ca­reer dawns. Phanella has ar­rived at two dis­tinct ca­reer junc­tions in her time. She drove change af­ter be­com­ing a frus­trated cor­po­rate lawyer and then, when the rigid­ity of a ca­reer as a high-fly­ing fund man­ager be­came at odds with her val­ues and her chil­dren, she reached a cross­roads again. Alice’s story is dif­fer­ent. She was a bliss­fully happy jour­nal­ist; cre­atively ful­filled, in­tel­lec­tu­ally stim­u­lated and with plenty of big plans in her back pocket. But then dis­as­ter struck with a per­sonal tragedy, and her ca­reer needed to re­flect the jour­ney she had been on.

The Step Up Club – and our work­ing part­ner­ship – is proof that we can all stop, take stock and rein­vig­o­rate our ca­reers. We learnt to be­come agile in how we thought about our ca­reers and ap­proached our work, and it’s led us some­where bril­liant. Change is nec­es­sary, not least be­cause we are liv­ing at a time when a job for life is a re­dun­dant no­tion. For the record, it wasn’t easy to move from our old ways. It took courage and con­fi­dence (both of which we were lack­ing) to start over, but we are pas­sion­ate about what we do now, have fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence and flu­id­ity in how we ap­proach work and life (in other words, we can at­tend those mid-af­ter­noon school plays). We know women strug­gle with tak­ing risks, but risks are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to change and suc­cess, and that’s the crux of this co­nun­drum. We can’t achieve our goals or ful­fil our po­ten­tial if we are paral­ysed by a fear of fail­ure. At Step Up, we build women’s con­fi­dence by dis­cussing the con­cept of fail­ing first. Ev­ery­one suf­fers fail­ures at work and we all make mis­takes. But with­out fail­ures how can we learn?

Our new­est ven­ture, the Step Up School (an in-per­son and on­line course), is proof that even when you ar­rive at the right ca­reer, there are still bound­aries to push, and new ven­tures to ex­plore. Step Up is a labour of love, and one that we’re very proud of. Through our work with other women, we’re con­stantly learn­ing about what we want – and how to get there, too. There are no big­ger cham­pi­ons of open­ing new doors in your ca­reer than us. Pos­i­tive change is at the core of ev­ery­thing we do.

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