I have been privileged to have heard Dame Stephanie Shirley speak and I can honestly say it was completely inspirational. She lives in my hometown, Henley-on-Thames and is an icon to all those that know her.
Dame Vera Stephanie “Steve” Shirley CH DBE FREng FBCS (née Buchthal; born 16 September 1933) is a British information technology pioneer, businesswoman and philanthropist.
Dame Stephanie Shirley was born as Vera Buchthal to Arnold Buchthal, a judge in Dortmund who was Jewish and who lost his post to the Nazi regime, and a non-Jewish Viennese mother. In July 1939 Shirley arrived, at the age of five together with her nine-year-old sister Renate, in Britain as a Kindertransport child refugee. She was placed in the care of foster parents living in the Midlands town of Sutton Coldfield. Later she was re-united with her biological parents, but said she “never really bonded with them”.
She has had an impressive career and has never stopped working not only for herself but always with others in mind. Her life has been one of enriching and helping others.
This year as she turned 87 years she could be forgiven for retiring. However this would not be Dame Stephanie Shirley’s style. Covid-19 stopped us all in our tracks. Life as we knew it was on hold. For Dame Stephanie, lockdown was an opportunity to gather together her favourite speeches into a book ~ So To Speak. It is an anthology of some 30 speeches from the past 40 years. So To Speak focuses on her refugee childhood, her software company for women (indeed women in society generally), her late son’s condition of autism and the joy she takes in venture philanthropy.
Dame Stephanie (she likes to be known as Steve) is a workplace revolutionary and successful IT entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist. She has given away nearly £70m to different projects, specifically IT and autism, her late son’s condition. And now every penny she receives from sales of So To Speak will go to the autism research charity: Autistica.
Her memoir, Let It Go, re-published by Penguin in 2019 has sold 27,000 copies in the U and has also just been published in German. Finally Let It Go is being made into a silver screen film, although this is currently on hold due to Covid-19.
Time was of the essence, so she commissioned the London based agency, Deep, to help design something very special. The result is a stunning book with a golden hardback cover, which packages the beautifully designed pages and photographs throughout. A golden gift for contemplative friends and business associates.
Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley would love to tell you more –
It is apparent from all those that know Dame Stephanie Shirley that giving her wealth away – letting it go – has brought her infinitely more happiness and fulfilment than acquiring it in the first place.
Get a copy of this book and give one to everyone you know…..