Influencers | episode 686

The Remarkable Career of IT Pioneer Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley

Dame Stephanie Shirley is a remarkable technology pioneer. She joined the Post Office Research Station in the 1950s, becoming a programmer under the legendary Tommy Flowers, who helped develop Colossus, the first programmable electronic computer, which helped decrypt codes on D-Day. In 1962, at the age of 29, she founded a technology company called Freelance Programmers, which would grow to be a nearly $3 billion company with 8,500 staff by 2007, when it was acquired by Sopra Steria. Dame Stephanie refers to herself as a venture philanthropist, and has founded and driven charitable foundations focused on autism and technology. Her memoir, Let It Go: My Extraordinary Story, was published in 2012. August 04, 2022

686: Dame Stephanie reflects on her storied career as an IT pioneer. After escaping Nazi Germany and arriving in the UK as a child, she went on to hold a series of influential positions in the technology industry. Dame Stephanie describes the trials and tribulations of starting a company as a woman in the 1960s, building client relationships as a woman-led business, and adopting an ahead-of-its-time approach to workplace flexibility. She also shares her passion for autism research, her role as a “venture philanthropist,” in the space, and progress made in developing an autism treatment. Finally, Dame Stephanie discusses her memoir, Let It Go: My Extraordinary Story, and how she remains active and productive in the later years of her life.

Also available on YouTube:

The World Class IT principles in yellow were the focus of this interview

  • 01 1- People
  • 02 2- Infrastructure
  • 03 3- Project and Portfolio Management
  • 04 4- IT & Business Partnership
  • 05 5- External Partnerships

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