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Successful entrepreneur to present Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture


An inspirational entrepreneur who arrived in Britain as a child refugee on the Kindertransport is to present the annual Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture at the University of Wolverhampton.

Dame Stephanie (Steve) Shirley is a workplace revolutionary and successful IT entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist.The 82-year-old will present the University’s Holocaust Memorial Day Annual Lecture on Thursday, 26 January 2017 from 5-6.30pm.

The lecture will be attended by local school pupils as well as University staff, students and guests and will take place in MC001 in the Millennium City Building, Wolverhampton Campus.

Dr Richard Hawkins, Reader in History, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Dame Stephanie Shirley to the University to share her experiences of arriving in Britain in 1939 on the Kindertransport. She has gone on to incredible success as an IT entrepreneur before turning her efforts to philanthropy and giving back to society, particularly in relation to autism.“We look forward to hearing her experiences in what promises to be a fascinating and enlightening Holocaust Memorial Day lecture.”

Dame Stephanie Shirley’s life story begins with her 1939 arrival in Britain as an unaccompanied Kindertransport refugee. In 1962, she started a software house, Freelance Programmers, 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 shared with her colleagues.

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 and strategic in impact, totally £67m to date.  The focus is on IT and her late son’s disorder of autism.

Her memoir Let IT Go was published in 2012 Personally signed copies will be available after the lecture for £10 in aid of Autistica, Dame Stephanie’s charity which raises funds for research into the causes of autism. 

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 1.7m views.

Further information

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

Picture: Dame Stephanie Shirley

Date Issued: Monday, 23 January 2017

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

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