It’s not the cheque that makes the difference

On Thursday 7 January 2021 we welcomed Dame Stephanie Shirley to open our webinar programme for 2021.

‘I never, ever, just write a cheque, I use my business and entrepreneurial skills, along with my wealth, to do the things I’m good at.’ Dame Stephanie Shirley

At age 87, Dame Stephanie (Steve) Shirley CH, is a workplace revolutionary and successful IT entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist. We are honoured to welcome her as she talks about the importance of the support you can give as an angel investor and philanthropist, and what can be achieved beyond the financial support.

Her story is one of true dedication, overcoming all odds. Having arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied Kindertransport refugee in 1939, she started what became Xansa on her dining room table with £6 in 1962. In 25 years as its Chief Executive she developed it into a leading business technology group, pioneering new work practices and changing the position of professional women (especially in hi-tech) along the way. She went on to create a global business and a personal fortune shared with her colleagues; she made 70 of her staff millionaires at no cost to anyone, but herself.

Since retiring in 1993, her focus has been increasingly on her strong belief in giving back to society. She has served on corporate Boards such as Tandem Computers Inc., the John Lewis Partnership plc, and the European Advisory Board of Korn/Ferry International. In 2009/10 she served as the UK’s first ever national Ambassador for Philanthropy.

Dame Stephanie has been much honoured. In 2013, she was named by Woman’s Hour as one of the 100 most powerful women in Britain. In 2014, the Science Council listed her as one of the Top 100 practising scientists in the UK. In 2015, Dame Stephanie was given the Women of the Year Special Award. Her TED Talk in 2015 was to a standing ovation from more than a thousand of the world’s most recognised technical entrepreneurs, thinkers, creators and doers. It has received 2.1m views. In 2017, Dame Stephanie received a Companion of Honour, one of only 65 people worldwide to receive such a recognition.