Dame Stephanie Shirley agreed to be interviewed by Voices from Oxford on the publication of her memoir, entitled Let IT Go (2013). Two videos uniquely capture her interviews conducted by the Director of Voices from Oxford, Sung Hee Kim, and by the former Master of Balliol College, Andrew Graham.
A short interview with the Director of Voices from Oxford brings out the strategic perspective and philosophy that characterizes how Dame Stephanie has dealt with the challenges and successes of her life and work. Since arriving at the age of 5 in England as one of the child refugees of the ‘Kindertransports’, Dame Stephanie eventually became such an incredibly successful businesswoman within the IT industry that she would later retire from business to become a ‘serial philanthropist’. Calling herself ‘Steve Shirley’ to get in the door of businesses in her early career, she was to later become the founding benefactor of the new face of IT through the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and Balliol College at Oxford, and a major benefactor of medical research on autism. She has stayed involved with the OII, such as by giving very motivational talks for our students, and you can see through this interview why students find her to be an inspiration for their own lives and career ambitions.
The interview with Andrew Graham is particularly relevant to the OII and Balliol College. It was while Andrew Graham was Master of Balliol College that he came up with the idea of the Institute, approached both Dame Stephanie (Steve) Shirley and the Government about its support, managed to get the idea accepted by an ancient Oxford College – Balliol, and accepted by numerous University committees, before obtaining support from the Government, and benefaction from Dame Stephanie. Andrew even acted as director of the OII until the first director was in place. A camaraderie that developed over more than a dozen years of collaboration of Andrew Graham and Steve Shirley becomes apparent in this interview. It covers the many meanings of ‘Let IT Go’ and the ‘cost of success’.
Prof Bill Dutton, Professor of Internet Studies,
Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford