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Dame Stephanie Shirley wins IoD Lifetime Achievement Award

21 Oct 2016

Director of the Year Awards celebrate the best in business leadership, with Brendan McGurgan of CDE Global named overall Director of the Year

Dame Stephanie Shirley, a technology pioneer, businesswoman and philanthropist who fled the Nazis to come to Britain in 1939, has today been granted a Lifetime Achievement award by the Institute of Directors. Dame Stephanie was one of 10,000, mostly Jewish, children who were able to escape the Nazi Regime as part of the Kindertransport programme. In an interview Director, the magazine for IoD members, she said this experience motivated her “not to fritter her life away”.

After training as a software programmer, Dame Stephanie started her own software business in 1962, on a budget of just £6. The company only employed female staff, and was one of the first British companies offer its employees flexible working hours, job-shares, profit-sharing and co-ownership. Since retiring, Dame Stephanie has devoted herself to philanthropy, founding the Shirley Foundation, which focuses on research into autism.

The award was given at the ceremony for the IoD’s annual Director of the Year Awards at the Lancaster London hotel. The awards recognise individuals who have displayed the highest standards of leadership in business, public and third sectors. For the first time this year, the IoD has also created a category for leadership in mental health awareness. Winners progress through regional heats to the national finals. This year, the overall winner was Brendan McGurgan, Managing Director of CDE Global, a materials processing company based in Cookstown, Northern Ireland. 

Louise Gulliver, acting Director General, said:

“Congratulations to all of the winners today for their contributions to business and their communities. Success is built on great leadership and it is important to reward those people have made outstanding contributions to their sector. Particular congratulations to the overall Director of the Year, Brendan McGurgan. The judges were very impressed by Brendan, who embodies the entrepreneurial spirit, leading strategic growth plans in global markets and championing an ethos of talent development.

“It is a great honour to be able to give the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dame Stephanie Shirley. Through her refusal to accept limitations on her ambition she is an example to all entrepreneurs. Not only has she made substantial contributions to technology and business, Dame Stephanie now devotes her time and money to improving the lives others as a philanthropist.”

Full list of winners:

Public Sector Director

Alastair Hamilton

Chief Executive, Invest Northern Ireland

Not for Profit/ Third Sector Director

Louise Macdonald OBE

Chief Executive, Young Scot

Leadership in Corporate Responsibility

Brady George

Managing Director, Almeda Facilities Ltd

Family Owned Business

Brian McErlain

Managing Director, Gensis Crafty

New Chartered Director

Paul Bennett CDir FIoD

Executive Chairman, b:ssec

International Director

Peter Digby

Chairman, Xtrac Ltd

Young Director & Overall Director of the Year

Brendan McGurgan

Managing Director, CDE Global Ltd

Student Director

Jamie Rawsthorne

University of West of England

SME Director

Paul McElvaney

CEO, Learning Pool

Mid-Market Director

Keith Jackson

CEO, JRI Orthopaedics Ltd

Non-Executive Director

Mike Blackburn

Chairman, Greater Manchester LEP

Large Company Director

Romana Abdin

CEO, Simplyhealth

Mental Health Award

Louise Aston

Wellbeing Director, Business in the Community

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dame Stephanie Shirley


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