Dame Stephanie Shirley is a successful IT entrepreneur who turned ardent philanthropist when she retired in 1993, and served as the UK’s first ever National Ambassador for Philanthropy in 2009/10.
She founded the software company F.I. Group in 1962, with an investment of £6m, which she successfully grew and sold for £150m. With an all-female workforce, she famously adopted the name “Steve” to bid for contracts and compete in the male-dominated industry.
She has also served on corporate Boards such as Tandem Computers Inc. (1992-7), the John Lewis Partnership plc (1999-2001) and AEA Technology – previously the Atomic Energy Authority (1992-2000).
Her charitable Shirley Foundation is one of the top grant givers in the UK with over £67m in social investments to-date. She has initiated – and taken to sustainability – a number of projects that are pioneering by nature and strategic in impact. The focus is on her professional discipline of IT and her late son’s disorder of autism.
Dame Stephanie has pioneered several of the interventions now used in special education and been a major supporter of special schools for autistic pupils, notably Prior’s Court near Newbury.
Her 2015 TED talk has been viewed over 1.6m times and a film is currently being made of her memoire Let IT Go.
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