Dame Stephanie Shirley
Founding Donor, OII
Faculty of Classics, Ioannou Centre for Classical & Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LY
Dame Stephanie Shirley (84) was appointed one of the rare Companions of Honour earlier this year for her entrepreneurship and philanthropy. She tells the story of her career and personal life, starting as an unaccompanied child refugee from Nazi Europe in 1939.
She studied at evening classes to get her London maths degree and is an honorary doctor of over 30 universities including that “cold, dark place in the Fens, founded by a group of people thrown out of Oxford”.
People laughed when she founded her software house as a company of women, for women. Starting with the today equivalent of £100, its ultimate success led to her philanthropy.
To date this includes £15m support for IT projects such as the Oxford Internet Institute and over £50m for autism (her late son’s disorder).
Her TED talk has been viewed nearly 2m times and her memoir Let IT Go is being made into a film.