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Dame Stella Rimington
As Former Director General of MI5 and as an international thriller writer, Dame Stella Rimington is known to billions of people as the role model for the character “M” played by Dame Judi Dench in the James Bond 007 films. Carving her own path in a world often dominated by men, Dame Stella has not only shattered glass ceilings but also redefined the standards of leadership and success.
About Dame Stella Rimington
Her career in intelligence began in the 1960s when she was recruited by MI5. Over the years, she climbed the ranks, and in 1992, she made history by becoming the first woman to hold the position of Director General of MI5, a role she held until 1996.
Born in 1935, Stella Rimington was educated at Nottingham High School for Girls and Edinburgh University.
She gained a Postgraduate Diploma in the Study of Records and the Administration of Archives at Liverpool University, and then worked in the Worcester County Record Office and the India Office Library, London.
In 1965, she accompanied her husband on a posting to the British High Commission in New Delhi, where she worked part-time for the Security Service, which had an office there. Returning to the UK in 1969, she joined the Service full-time and worked in all the main fields of the Service’s responsibilities – counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism. She was the only person to become Director of all three branches.
Appointed Director General of MI5 in 1992, Stella Rimington was the first woman to take the post and the first Director General to be publicly named in the Government’s new spirit of open-ness. She retired in April 1996.
Made a Dame Commander of the Bath in the 1996 New Year Honours List, Dame Stella has Honorary Degrees from Universities including Nottingham, Warwick, Lucy Cavendish Cambridge and Exeter.
Edinburgh University elected her as their “Alumna of the Year 1994”.
Formerly a Non-Executive Director of Marks & Spencer Plc, BG Group Plc, and an Associate Director of CPS, she was Chairman of the Institute of Cancer Research, Trustee of the Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Trust, and Honorary Air Commodore of 7006 (VR) Intelligence Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force and a Trustee of the RAF Museum.
A best-selling thriller writer, Dame Stella chaired the Judging Panel for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 2012. The 10th book in her Liz Carlyle thriller series, The Moscow Sleepers, was published in 2018. The Devil’s Bargain, the first book of a new series with a female lead character, was published in March 2022.
A Governor of Town Close House Preparatory School in Norwich, she has two daughters and five grandchildren.
"I was very impressed with Dame Stella's speech – well-delivered, well-argued and stimulating. Dame Stella answered questions unexpectedly openly and straightforwardly, given a career in an institution which reminds each employee not to assume things are ever as they might appear to be."
Ernst & Young
"We always ask delegates to complete a feedback sheet. Dame Stella was rated as Excellent by 97% of the delegates. This is the highest-ever rating for a speaker, not just in the UK, but all over the world, which is amazing. My biggest problem now is …… whom to invite next year!?"
"Dame Stella was absolutely excellent – our audience were spellbound. She was an excellent choice and we would highly recommend her."
Optimum Events for iTelligence Business Solutions
"Dame Stella was delightful and the stories of her working life were fascinating, much enjoyed by everyone, including HRH Princess Anne. Delighted to have such an inspiring lady with us."
"A thought-provoking presentation for our Risk Division Leadership Meeting. All our attendees thoroughly enjoyed Dame Stella’s insight. The challenges she faced remain relevant today. An excellent session and we have received really positive feedback: Dame Stella was the highlight of the day."
Leading Global Bank
"Seriously informative in an amusing way. She was approachable, friendly and put everyone at their ease."
Hastings & Rother
"Dame Stella spoke at the end of our annual conference to an international audience of 600. Her speech about her life and career within MI5 was compelling and truly fascinating. The audience were completely engaged for the whole 45 minutes and gave her the biggest applause of the plenary. We were delighted – she was excellent!"
"What a privilege to have heard Dame Stella speak. It was so clear how engaged everyone was in the room by the most fascinating and inspiring talk. I could have listened for another hour on the edge of my seat! Our members left on a high and there was a real buzz around the club about Dame Stella. Our most heartfelt and renewed thanks."
The Arts Club, London
"It was a pleasure to meet and hear Dame Stella and we have received so many plaudits regarding her. We are now all wondering what on Earth to do next year to follow our 2022 success! I will be in touch and it’s great to have a ‘spy pen’ again!"
Shropshire Federation of Women’s Institutes
"Dame Stella was superb. Excellent feedback. Delegates said she was excellent. An absolute pleasure to have her at our event."
"Dame Stella was superb. We had an incredible event that had global interest and attracted a capacity audience. Brilliant!"
Bank of America
"Open. Honest. Candid. Stellar."
Global Software Security Company
Dame Stella Rimington News
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