My Mentor: Simon Tiffin on Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman

'She's extremely funny. You need to be, on a mag like GQ with all the guys'
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The Independent Online

I left university and headed into my dark years, living hand to mouth. One day, Alexandra phoned and said she'd just started editing this new magazine called GQ and would I like to do some work experience? Alex knew what I was like. Maybe she recognised some talent I thought I'd successfully concealed. I went in to do two weeks' work experience and left Condé Nast 11 years later.

Men's magazines were a different world then, before FHM and Loaded. We were very much the new kids on the block. GQ under Alex became like a second home for everybody. She laid the foundations for success, and it was taken up brilliantly by Michael Vermeulen, an absolute joy to work under.

It was Alex's first editorship and it was a fun environment: interesting, quick and stimulating. I remember being a bit in awe, but she allowed me to find my feet and to express myself. It's nice when you want to please an editor; it spurs you on.

She knew when to be cross and when to praise. She brought together a group that gelled, with very different skills. She's extremely funny; you need to be, on a magazine like that with all the guys.

I was on holiday when I saw the headline: "GQ editor leaves for Vogue", and I was horrified. She's always been terrifically encouraging to me, and I know I can ring her up, have lunch and get some good advice. I was very proud when I heard about her OBE.

Alex and Michael both gave me the belief that becoming an editor was possible one day. It's been a fantastic journey and I can't thank her enough. Work experience is a great thing!"

Simon Tiffin is the editor of Esquire