Women’s History Month

Throughout March we are sharing some of the brightest and best talks from BoS to celebrate the wonderful women we have welcomed on stage.

Dame Stephanie Shirley

In 1939 Dame Stephanie Shirley came to England aged 6 as an unaccompanied child refugee on the Kindertransport.

In 1962, she started Freelance Programmers, pioneering new work practices, especially in hi-tech. Her company was one of the first organisations to fall foul of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975 – up until that point, she had only employed women. She worked on software projects including Concorde’s black box flight recorder and built the company into a global business which she took into co- ownership at no cost to anyone but her. After her company was acquired, it was valued at some $3bn, 70 of her staff became millionaires.

Dame Stephanie has served on the boards of Tandem Computers, the Atomic Energy Authority and was the first ever NED of the John Lewis Partnership. An ardent philanthropist, she was appointed a Companion of Honour in 2017 – for “nationally important service as entrepreneur and philanthropist”.

In this talk from BoS Europe 2019, Dame Stephanie discusses some of the lessons she’s learned in starting, building, growing and exiting one of Europe’s most successful companies.

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