Pioneering businesswoman and philanthropist, Dame Stephanie (Steve) Shirley is participating in a special question and answer session with sixth form pupils at Lillian Baylis Technology School (LBTS) today (Tuesday 9 July). During the session, Dame Stephanie will give pupils an insight into the challenges she has faced and overcome throughout her inspirational life, from arriving as a refugee to becoming one of Britain’s most successful businesswomen.
The second of a series of motivational talks at LBTS, organised and sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT), the event will give schoolchildren the chance to ask questions about Dame Stephanie’s experiences and get her advice on challenges they face in their own lives. The session is being hosted by George Kalorokoti, CEO of management consultancy etokro; a member of the WCIT; and a school Governor at LBTS.
Dame Stephanie had a traumatic childhood, having arrived in the UK as a five-year old refugee from Nazi Germany in 1939. In 1962, she founded what became a highly successful software company, with just £6, focused around what was then the revolutionary concept of women working flexibly from home.
The company which became known as FI Group focused on creating better work opportunities for women with dependents and making a positive contribution to women in business along the way.
When the business floated, it created 70 millionaires from its employees and made Steve Shirley the 40th wealthiest woman in Britain. In retirement, she has donated much of this wealth to charities, in particular those related to autism - her only son was severely autistic. Her continued charity work has been widely recognised, including picking up a special award at the IT4Good Awards at the BT Centre last week. Last year, she also published a well-received autobiography, Let IT Go, which gives a moving and frank account of her life and career.
Michael Grant, Master of WCIT, said: “Dame Stephanie’s life story is an inspiration to many and her pioneering work in countering autism gives real hope to many people with the disorder. She is also a compelling speaker and I am confident she will find an eager and receptive audience at LBTS.”
WCIT has played a key role in helping develop a culture based on aspiration and high expectations at LBTS: principles which perfectly align with Dame Stephanie’s own vision and values.
WCIT helped LBTS become a specialist school focusing on technology and assists it on a continuing basis with a range of activities with pupils and staff, including providing two school Governors. LBTS, once considered a failing school, was recently graded as outstanding in all aspects (achievement, teaching, behaviour and leadership) by Ofsted - one of only two schools in London to achieve this since the new tougher Ofsted inspection process was introduced in September 2012.
Dame Stephanie’s interactive presentation is the second in a series of motivational talks that WCIT is hosting at LBTS. It follows on from a warmly-received speech given by mountaineer and adventurer, Squash Falconer to children at the school in April this year.
About The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT)
The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists is the 100th livery company of the City of London, bringing together the centuries-old livery tradition and information technology, a key industry of the new millennium. Since 1992, when the Company was awarded livery status by the Court of Aldermen of the City of London, it has been actively demonstrating the relevance of the livery tradition to modern day society. The Company uses the time, expertise and resources of its members to promote the information technology profession and undertake a range of charitable and educational activities. The Company currently has more than 720 members, all of whom are senior figures in the IT profession.
For further information about The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, please visit www.wcit.org.uk