Dame Stephanie Shirley (age 81) is a successful IT entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist and workplace revolutionary. www.steveshirley.com. Her life story, begins with her arrival in Britain as a five-year old Kindertransport refugee in 1939. In 1962, she started a software house, F International, that pioneered new work practices and changed the position of professional women, especially in hi-tech. She went on to create a global business and a personal fortune from nothing with the joy and sadness of raising her only son, Giles, who was born severely autistic.
Since retiring in 1993, her focus has been increasingly on philanthropy based on her strong belief in giving back to society. In 2009/10 she served as the UK’s first ever national Ambassador for Philanthropy. Her charitable Shirley Foundation has initiated and funded a number of projects that are pioneering by nature, strategic in impact and significant in money terms. The focus is on IT and her late son’s disorder of autism.
Dame Stephanie, known as ‘Steve’, was named as one of the 100 most powerful women in Britain in February 2013 by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. In January 2014, the Science Council named Dame Stephanie as one of the Top 100 practising scientists in the UK.
Her memoir Let IT Go was published in October 2012 www.let-it-go.co.uk and a Talking Book version (recorded by Dame Stephanie herself) was released in 2014. Both are available online from Amazon.
In March 2015, Dame Stephanie gave a TED Talk in Vancouver, Canada to a standing ovation from more than a thousand of the world’s most recognised technical entrepreneurs, thinkers, creators and doers. The Talk has to-date received nearly 700,000 views and the phrase ‘Why do ambitious women have flat heads’ has been quoted everywhere. Please view her Talk by clicking here.
When asked to describe herself in 3 words, Dame Stephanie said “Passionate. Determined. Inspirational.”