In this occasional series of interviews with the City's leading philanthropists we aim to bring guidance and inspiration to others.
Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley is a highly successful entrepreneur turned philanthropist. Dame Shirley arrived in Britain aged 5 in 1939 as an unaccompanied child refugee escaping from Nazi Europe. In 1962 she founded her first software company, Xansa, which revoluntionised the position of women in the workplace. After retiring in 1993 she turned her focus to philanthropy, primarily autism; her son Giles was autistic and died in 1998. She is also committed to making better use of IT in the voluntary sector. Her charitable Shirley Foundation is one of the top 50 grant-giving foundations in the UK. In 2009 Dame Stephanie Shirley was appointed as the National Ambassador of Philanthropy by the UK government.