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Sir Richard Branson
CIM Team #4 Research
21st February 2009
• Management is doing things right; leadership
is doing the right things.
Peter F. Drucker
• Leadership is the art of getting someone else
to do something you want done because he
wants to do it.
Sir Richard Branson
• Born July 18, 1950, England
• Married, 2 children
Virgin Group > 360 companies
Companies cost 25 billion $
55 000 employees
« A Frugal Billionaire »
« Is an English industrialist (business magnate) »
« The quintessential entrepreneur »
• He was knighted in 1999 for his
quot;services to entrepreneurship“
• Sir Richard appears at No. 85 on the 2002
list of quot;100 Greatest Britons«
• Sir Richard was also ranked in 2007's Time Magazine
quot;Top 100 Most Influential People in the Worldquot;.
• On 7 December 2007, United Nations Secretary presented
Branson with the United Citizen of the World Award for his
support for environmental and humanitarian causes
• Richard Branson is the 236th richest person according to
Forbes' 2008 list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of
approximately $4.4 billion USD
“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”.
How he began
• When he was 16 years old, he dropped out of school to move to
London and launch Student Magazine, which did relatively more
• At 19 founded the Virgin mail order record company
• Success in selling mail order records , opening of a record shop than
launched own record label, Virgin Records.
• On May 25, 1973, the Richard Branson biography took on a whole
new dimension with the release of Mike Oldfields ‐ the first release
for Virgin Records, which quickly became a best‐seller throughout
England = GREAT SUCCESS
Way to the top
Virgin Megastores arrives in
Virgin launches Virgin Blue
Virgin launches Virgin Galactic
Virgin Publishing (Virgin
Virgin launches Virgin Health
Books) is formed
Virgin Records goes
international Virgin Records is sold to Thorn
Virgin launches Virgin Media
Virgin Atlantic Airways and
Virgin Fuel US$400 million in
Virgin cargo are launched Launch of Virgin Vodka and
Virgin Atlantic jet flight on
Virgin Group now includes
biofuels and in renewable
record labels, retail outlets, Virgin Express a European low
exported music publishing, cost Airline is launched in
broadcasting, satellite Brussels
television, and film and Virgin Mobile launches Virgin's
video distribution first telecoms venture
Virgin launches Virgin
Airship & Balloon Company
Top known companies
Virgin Records music label (sold)
Virgin Atlantic Airways (USA)
Virgin Mobile (India)
Virgin Media (UK's fastest broadband)
Virgin Blue Australia
+ 300 more branded venture capital organizations
The net worth of Virgin Group LTD as
of September 2008 is £5,010,000,000.
• Branson was asked about strategy and said that he didn’t
run his businesses by strategies.
• Instead, he keeps a ‘to do’ list, that he writes at the
beginning of each day.
• Branson has taken steps to define a strategy for the
Virgin Group in recent years ‐ Branded Venture
Capitalism was what his strategy advisor called it
World Economic Forum 2009
• Participant of the Second philanthropic roundtable
organized by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation
• Incl. Matthew Bishop, Tony Blair, Richard Branson,
Bill Clinton, Jet Li, Muhammad Yunus
• Richard Branson tells the BBC's Robert Peston that in
times of recession there are massive opportunities
and fortunes to be made, so for new up and coming
entrepreneurs this is the time to go and start a
• Finding the right people
• Inspiring them
•Drawing out the best things
• Love learning
• Inquisitive mind
• Life is a one learning process
• Ability to connect with people
• Innovative approach to the business
• Like challenges and always disengage difficulties
• I’m not good at theory. Almost everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned
• Topping my list of gut feelings is this: business has to give people
enriching, rewarding lives, or it’s simply not worth doing.
Some simple strategies
• Size does matter: you need to challenge and
compete with big brands to become big yourself.
• Take it easy, mix fun with work.
• Remember, all work and no play
makes Jack a dull boy ☺
• Haggling is possible in every business
‐ it brings down prices.
• Mingle like a common man, go ahead
like a bullet.
• Be camera / media‐ friendly ☺
Virgin America launches three daily roundtrips
between LA and Boston, 11/02/2009
Non business life
• Branson is also well known for his personal
• 1986 Smashed the world record
for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic
• In 1987/1991 Branson crossed the Atlantic Ocean
in the quot;Virgin Atlantic Flyerquot;, which was the first
and largest hot air balloon to cross the ocean.
Non business life
• In March 2004, Branson set a record by crossing the English Channel
between Britain and France on an amphibious vessel ‐ in record
time in 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 6 seconds.
• In September 2008 Branson and his children made an unsuccessful
attempt crossing of the Atlantic ocean. After 2 days a 'monster
wave' destroyed the spinnaker
• Listen to people.
• Integrate personnel into
Core beliefs and values other parts of the Branson's Skills
• Helping people achieve • Public Relations genius ‐
things that they did not he understands what the
Values and beliefs
know they were capable of media wants and gives it
• Being a catalyst to the • He says that he never to them
success of others listens to critics • He is likeable. He knows
• Constantly learning • He is a sponge for new when to disappear
• Inspire people to think
• You and everyone around
you will make mistakes
Adjusting leadership theories …
Blake & Mouton's managerial grid
country club team
Concern for people
middle of the road
Concern for production
1.9. Country club. Manager is attentive to staff needs and has developed satisfying
relationships. However, little attention is paid to achieving results.
Adjusting leadership theories …
• Seeks to involve other people in the process, possibly including
subordinates, peers, superiors and other stakeholders.
• How much influence others are given thus may vary on the manager's
preferences and beliefs, and a whole spectrum of participation is possible,
as in the table below.
Art of delegation… I have to be good at helping people run the individual
Branson says his philosophy of quot;look for the
best and you'll get the bestquot; helped
him build an empire recognized for its
young, fun culture…
“If a flower is watered, it flourishes. If not, it shrivels up and dies. It’s much
more fun looking for the best in people.
Employee should be given the opportunity to do well in a different Virgin
Group job. Firing is seldom an option…
Interaction between employees and managers is fundamental. Encourage
stuff to write him with any ideas or suggestions. Either way, they get the
chance to be heard.
Branson has developed a level of trust with his top managers by setting the
direction and then stepping back to let them navigate. quot;I come up with the
original idea, spend the first three months immersed in the business so I
know the ins and outs and then give chief executives a stake in the
company and ask them to run it as if it’s their own…quot;
Motivational strategies extend to innovative ideas. The key to encouraging
innovation within the Virgin ranks, suggests Branson, is to listen to any and
all ideas and to offer feedback.
“Inspire people to think like entrepreneurs, and whatever you do, treat them
like adults. The hardest taskmaster of all is a person’s own conscience, so the
more responsibility you give people, the better they will work for you.”
“One thing is certain in business. You and everyone around you will make
mistakes. When you are pushing the boundaries this is inevitable—and it’s
important to realize this. Even when things are running well, there is always
the prospect of a new reality around the corner. Suddenly, all the good
decisions you made last week are doing you untold damage. … Failure usually
occurs when leaders avoid the reality of business. You have to trust the people
around you to learn from their mistakes. Blame and recriminations are
“There are many ways to run a successful company. What works once may
never work again. What everyone tells you never to do may just work, once.
There are no rules. You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by
doing, and by falling over, and it’s because you fall over that you learn to save
yourself from falling over. It’s the greatest thrill in the world and it runs away
screaming at the first sight of bullet points.”
That’s all !
CIM Virgin Team #4