Richard Branson is a British entrepreneur known for his philanthropic projects and his taste for adventure. He is the founder and chairman of Virgin Group Ltd., a conglomerate of separately run companies which include radio stations, airlines, and mobile phones. The Virgin Group now owns around 200 companies in over 30 countries. Virgin also plans to launch commercial space flights over the next few years in a venture called Virgin Galactic.
Branson was born in 1950 in Surrey, England, and was educated at Stowe School, where he established a national magazine, Student, at the age of 16. He is married with two children and lives in London and Oxfordshire.
Richard Branson: I find good CEOs to run each of the individual [Virgin] companies. We have these 300 CEOs out there around the world who are leading the fight. I take a chairman role.
The way I split my time is about 50 percent on social projects. And that’s increased over the years. Of the other 50 percent, about a third is spent on fire fighting, when we have a problem. About a third is spent on developing the companies that we’ve already got going. And the other third is maybe spent on getting new companies going.
And then between all that, I have to get out there and try to make sure that Virgin becomes the most respected brand in world. And one way of making sure it becomes the most respected brand in the world is to get out there and talk about what we’re doing and help promote and get the brand in people’s minds and support all the people out there who are working hard to build it.
The company is made of up 300 individual companies. It’s very unusual for a western company. Perhaps it’s unusual even for an eastern company. In a sense we’re a way of life company. You’ve got the better known brands in the west. Coca-Cola specializes in soft drinks, Microsoft in computers, Nike in shoes. And so it goes on. Virgin can look after your needs from the time you’re born almost until the time you die. I haven’t quite got to Virgin funerals yet.
The reason for that is I love life. I love learning about new things. If I see that something can be done better, I love to challenge myself and the people around me to see if we can do it better. I’m inquisitive.
I’ve just come from a meeting. We’ve been talking about what we’ve been discovering on clean fuels. What he’s been discovering on clean fuels and sharing ideas. Incredibly exciting to see if we can come up with a fuel that can replace the conventional dirty fuels that’s destroying our planet.
Just learning and living life to its full.
Now that process of being an entrepreneur, I learned a lot. It can be very useful. And then tackling some of the global problems that we face.
I just mentioned fuels. And a massive problem that the world faces is global warming. It’s going to affect all countries in the world, and in particular, the poorer countries. And ultimately could literally mean the end of mankind itself. But man has the brains and the intelligence to do something about it and we’re going play a major part in trying to do something about it. And that’s the kind of entrepreneurial, charitable approach that we’re now taking to new ventures.