Oral history of British science
Shirley, Stephanie (Part 11 of 15). An Oral History of British Science.
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Interviewee's home, Henley-on-Thames
Shirley, Stephanie, 1933- (speaker, female)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 11: Comments on: importance of people to a service organisation leading to early implementation of profit sharing at FI; negative impact of 1970's recession; John Stevens [JS] influence on decision to replace profit sharing with share ownership; research models of John Lewis, Kalamazoo, Mondragon steel works in Spain; putting in her own money and time to push scheme through; help of Professor Keith Bradley's meetings at the LSE, through whom she met Stanislav Yakocovitch, Sir Peter Thompson [PT], David Urdle and Phyllis Pearsall of A to Z maps, which seemed a model for SS to follow. [07:32] Remarks on painful process of divesting herself of company and on staged process of co-ownership; SS topped up staff trust holdings to 24% by 25th anniversary; SS having to make a distress sale of shares; institutional investors expecting company to float on stock market; schemes to sell staff shares; influence of HC on increased staff ownership; desire to make herself financially independent of company; [14:36] influence of PT in encouraging fast sale of shares to staff; SS and HC encouraging staff to raise £1million; retirement; more empowered company atmosphere as a result. [18:42] Remarks on: reasons for co-ownership, aim of a John Lewis style partnership, drive to hand over more of company to staff, change of company to a larger less personal organisation and institutional investors leading to company floating on stock market in 1996; wishing she'd sold company earlier; mechanisms to retain staff shareholding; [24:51] Story about investigation by Inland Revenue. Remarks on corporate board: changes to strengthen board: members, such as civil servant Robin Linguard, external consultants, PT; SS's position as owner vis-a-vis board; SS's bottom up style of management compared to HC's style; similarities with Shirley Foundation [SF]. [31:58] Remarks on: choosing board members for strategic skills, encouraging them to serve on other boards; SS membership of other boards after retirement. [35:41] Remarks on first serving on board of Help the Aged, succeeded by Joan Connell. [37:10] Remarks on membership of Tandem Computers board: first woman, after BCS experience, differences to British boards, advising founder Jimmy Treybig on sale to Hewlett-Packard. [39:23]Comments on serving on government Atomic Energy Authority committee in preparation for privatisation, asking commercial questions in an environment unused to commercial pressures. [42:09] Remarks on distress sale of shares for family reasons on advice of George Sala. Comments on role as President of BCS: figurehead, communicating with professional bodies, government; chairing council meetings; paying for a market research report on the BCS; successors, such as Wendy Hall. [46:55] Remarks on serving on the National Council for Vocational Qualifications.
Interview with entrepreneur, computer scientist and philanthropist Dame Stephanie 'Steve' Shirley.