Meet the CEO - Sir Richard Branson

Meet the CEO - Sir Richard Branson - 10th December 2003 (Credit: UNSW)

Virgin chairman Sir Richard Branson shared some of the secrets behind his phenomenal success at the inaugural Meet the CEO, organised by the faculty of commerce and economics.

More than 900 people turned up for last night's event, held in the Scientia, including prominent members of the business community, other alumni and students from the faculty. The evening was hosted by Radio National breakfast presenter Peter Thompson.

Branson, who left school at 17, said many of his decisions had been based on gut feeling and personal experience. While editing a student magazine Branson realised he had to be an entrepreneur to keep the publication going. He now believes that if you run one business you can run any business.

"As long as you know you can create a concept that is the best in its field, then generally speaking, you can make it work," says Branson.

While acknowledging the great benefits of a university education, Branson sees his life as the tertiary education he never had.

"We didn't have decent business studies or business universities at that time in the UK, though we do now," says Branson.

The key to his success, Branson, says, is "people, people, people". Fielding questions from the audience, Branson outlined the four main elements to establishing and growing a successful business: surround yourself with people better than you, learn the art of delegation, have a passion for the business with real objectives and "just giving it a try".

Branson acknowledged the high failure rate of setting up new businesses but encouraged young entrepreneurs in the audience to try nonetheless.

An initiative of the faculty advisory board, the Meet the CEO series aims to give students and alumni access to contemporary thinking in business by its leading practitioners.

Other speakers at the event were the Dean of the faculty of commerce and economics, Professor Greg Whittred, Warwick Negus, director of 452 Capital Pty Ltd and chair of the faculty advisory board and Peter May, partner of Deloitte, corporate sponsors of the Branson event.

Media partner for the series is the Australian Financial Review's BOSS magazine. The event will be held between four and six times a year.


Richard Branson