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Virgin Group founder is next Global Leaders speaker

By Mark Walden on September 30, 2011

Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder and president, will deliver the next lecture in the Kerschner Family Series Global Leaders at Colgate, kicking off entrepreneur weekend on Colgate Day, Friday, April 13, 2012. Branson will speak to the campus community in Sanford Field House at 6 p.m. Ticketing information will be posted at colgateconnect.org/globalleaders as it becomes available.

bransonweb.jpgBranson, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, founded Virgin in 1970 as a mail-order record retailer. Shortly thereafter, he opened a record shop and recording studio. The first album of the newly created Virgin Records went on to sell more than 5 million copies, and over the years, many household names, including Belinda Carlisle, Genesis, Janet Jackson, and The Rolling Stones, helped make Virgin Music one of the top record companies in the world.

The interests of Virgin Group have now expanded into music retailing, air travel, mobile, financial, retail, music, Internet, rail, resorts, and leisure, through approximately 200 companies in more than 30 countries.

Branson is a trustee of several charities, including the Virgin Healthcare Foundation. His initial funding of Charity Projects helped that organization to raise significant support through campaigns such as Comic Relief. In the summer of 2004, he launched Virgin Unite to tackle malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.

Since 1985, Branson has been involved in a number of attempts to break world records. In 1986, his boat Virgin Atlantic Challenger II crossed the Atlantic Ocean in record-breaking time. This was followed a year later by his hot-air balloon crossing of the same ocean in Virgin Atlantic Flyer — the first hot-air balloon to cross the Atlantic and the largest ever flown. In January 1991, he crossed the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Arctic Canada, breaking all existing records in a balloon of 2.6 million cubic feet.

In December 1999, Branson was awarded a knighthood in Queen Elizabeth’s millennium New Years honors list for “services to entrepreneurship.” He currently lives in London and Oxfordshire, and is married with two children.

The Global Leaders series, sponsored by Colgate’s Parents’ and Grandparents’ Fund, allows the university to invite high-profile guests like Branson to campus.

President Bill Clinton delivered the most recent lecture in the series. Previous speakers have included Garry Kasparov, world chess champion-turned-politician; Tony Blair, former prime minister of Great Britain; Colin Powell, former U.S. secretary of state; the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism; and Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, award-winning authors of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.

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2 Comments



  • Cathy Nanz said:

    Will this be available online?

    How come this bio doesn’t mention his private spaceflight successes?




    • Mark Walden said:

      Hello, Cathy. We are exploring the possibility of streaming the lecture online and will post updates as they become available. And, yes, Sir Richard has achieved some recent successes in space-based entrepreneurism. Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial space tourism business. Based on the technology of Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne, Virgin Galactic will take passengers to suborbital space.