Leaders in the spotlight: Sir Richard Branson

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Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is a British business magnate, investor, humanitarian, entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded the Virgin Group.

Born on the 18th July in 1950, Branson showed his entrepreneurial flair from an early age, that has led him to become one of the world’s richest and most successful businessmen.

Having started his own magazine at the age of 16 – named ‘Student’ – Branson grew the business into a mail-order supply company. This is more impressive than it appears, as he suffered from dyslexia in school and was told by teachers that he would end up in prison or become a millionaire.

His poor school results didn’t deter him from growing his business prowess.

By 22, Dyson opened a chain of record stores – that became known as ‘Virgin Records’ – and later ‘Virgin Megastores’ once it had incorporated a larger range of products for retail.

Over the next decade, Virgin signed up some of the eras most controversial bands to its label, including the Sex Pistols, Rollings Stones and UB40. This helped the ‘Virgin’ brand grow worldwide and soon Branson was looking to expand the company’s reach into other sectors.

In the late 80s Branson launched Virgin Atlantic Airways and even though he had to sell his record label ‘EMI’ in 1992 to keep it afloat – the business has grown and recently expanded into looking at the possibility of passenger flights to space.

Branson did re-enter the music business in 1996 with the launch of his new label, ‘V2’.

To date – the Virgin brand has been assigned to over 400 separate companies. The most famous ones have included Virgin Galactic, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Trains, Virgin Fuels, Virgin Comics & Animation, Virgin Money and Virgin Healthcare.

Despite having a collective annual revenue of over $20 billion – the Virgin brand has not always been a success. Some of the failed brands include Virgin Cola, Virgin Cars and Virgin Clothing.

Away from business, Branson has been known to attempt to break many different world records. These have included trying to become the fastest traveller across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via boat and then later, hot air balloon. He succeeded in breaking these records.

He tried to circumnavigate the world in a balloon in 1995 and 1998 but failed to complete the trip.

In 2004, he became the fastest person to complete the English channel crossing in an amphibious vehicle. He also holds several kitesurfing world records.

Four year’s earlier, Branson was recognised in the New Year’s Honours list for his services to entrepreneurship. His estimated personal wealth is between $5/6 billion.

Branson wrote in his autobiography – “My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them from the perspective of wanting to live life to the full. I felt that I had to attempt it.”

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