Founder and President, Virgin Group, Global Entrepreneur, Adventurer and Philanthropist
Sir Richard Branson is arguably one of the world's best known business figures. A billionaire entrepreneur who left school at 16 with dyslexia and little in the way of academic achievement, who built an international business empire encompassing everything from airlines to medical research.
Famously starting out with a mail-order record business before opening a shop on Oxford Street, Virgin quickly moved to recording its own releases. Richard chose Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells to be the label's first recording simply because he liked it. His taste was shared by millions and the record became a phenomenon launching both Oldfield and Branson on their separate paths. Virgin Records became a huge success with artists from the Sex Pistols to the Spice Girls before being sold to EMI.
Since those early days Virgin has had business interests in radio, cosmetics, mobile phones, TV and broadband, comic books, video games, book publishing, gyms, bridal wear, soft drinks and recently finance and banking with the purchase of Northern Rock. Today Virgin owns over 250 companies with interests in many more. Whist not every venture has been successful, they were all started with a commitment and passion typical of the Virgin brand. Virgin today is perhaps best known for their operations in train and air travel and more recently in space tourism with Virgin Galactic.
Noted for being involved in flamboyant publicity stunts Richard is known for personally fronting the Virgin brand regardless of the area of the business. He is in many ways the epitome of the personification of a brand. He has founded or put the Virgin name to dozens of companies, many of which have been sold later. A true entrepreneur, Richard believes in setting apparently unachievable goals and that mistakes are more instructive than successes. He says that without risk, nothing gets done, and with that risk, comes the chance of failure - as long as you dont bet the entire house on it. The success of Virgin in so many diverse areas is often seen as testament to creating a brand ethos that is known and trusted by customers as well as delivering something unique.
Leadership the Virgin Way
Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur