Richard Branson is one of the wealthiest men in the world, with much of his fortune dedicated to his passion: philanthropy.
By Walter Raymond
Sir Richard Branson, founder and CEO of Virgin Group is one of the most successful and admired business leaders in the world. With an extravagant and transgressive spirit, he once disguised himself as a pirate and crossed the Atlantic in a speedboat.
It seems there are no limits to this passionate Englishman. Together with his futuristic vision of promoting space tourism through his company Virgin Galactic, he finds enough time to lead Virgin Group, a multinational corporation with more than 300 enterprises that operate in sectors as diverse as commercial aviation, telecommunications, entertainment, and health. This consortium, which has a presence in 30 countries and about 48,000 employees, reported in 2011 revenues as high as 21 billion dollars.
A leader born in Blackheath
Richard Branson was born in Blackheath, in the suburbs of London. Although he has known adversity, we can say that he has done very well in most of his businesses. In fact, his fortune is estimated at $4.6 billion. He often says the main secret of his success is to delve into companies he finds amusing. The other big reason for his success seems to be his frank and direct style of leadership: he stays in close contact with his staff and his clients.
Top: The Elders
Bottom: The Virgin Unite team in Africa
We need to change to change the world
"Men created the problems and men can solve them," Branson has expressed on several occasions. His latest known project, called Capitalism 24902 (the circumference of the Earth in miles) aims to redefine capitalism to transform it into a beneficial force.
The modus operandi would be to put together an alliance of corporations with organizations, governments and communities to change the current scenario of hunger, social inequality, war, and environmental destruction. "If a company can become a beneficial force, the results will be good for business; employees will feel proud to work for it, and they will give more of themselves. Businesses need to have a heart, a company is much more than a moneymaker,” proclaims Sir Richard, and concludes," we must put people at the center of everything we do."
His dreams of globalized changes are not new. Already in 2004, he created the Virgin Unite Foundation together with his employees. The goal was to support initiatives that address complex and challenging social and environmental issues, paying especial attention to projects aimed at capturing carbon gasses to reverse the process of global warming.
Richard Branson surrounded by Virgin Unite team members
Richard Branson is also a sponsor of The Elders, a group of independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights. Among the group’s respectable members are former US President Jimmy Carter; Desmond Tutu, Bishop Emeritus of Cape Town; Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize; and Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland and a member of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights. ■
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