How do you ensure there is a consistent thread across Virgin businesses and how important is that when you have a house of brands?
The Virgin brand thrives because of the people we employ. Our people are passionate about their roles but also committed to making sure each one of our many millions of customers has a first-rate experience. We have built a family of companies and all are given the freedom to be creative with the brand. Like all strong families at the centre are our people and our values which really keep Virgin, well, Virgin.
Why is Virgin launching Virgin Red – why have you decided to bring together all the Virgin businesses for the first time?
One of things I’m most proud of within the group is our history of rewarding our customers, especially those most loyal to us. It’s something we’ve done, and will continue to do across the Virgin companies. Virgin Red is something we’ve wanted to do for some time but it was important we got it right for our customers and in relation to our existing offers.
Virgin Red is designed to bring together the whole Virgin family and rewards people for living a life more Virgin.
What do you think makes someone ‘more Virgin’?
Being more Virgin for some is about having fun, for some it’s about taking a risk – something I can relate to – and for others it’s about getting a completely unique, quality experience. Virgin has made a habit of shaking up markets we’ve entered – I think this app is just that and our members will love it.
Do you think marketers can make good entrepreneurs?
A good entrepreneur starts with a customer problem. From this point, they can develop a solution and with passion, hard work and a bit of a risk and luck, they stand a good chance of success. Marketers are very well positioned to understand those customer problems, which is a great start.
What advice would you offer marketers looking to advance their career?
Focus on what you’re great at and what interests you – it’s so important to love what you do. Always listen to people’s advice, ignoring the naysayers. Mentors are so important I wouldn’t have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker founder of Laker airways. Now, I love mentoring young entrepreneurs.
Don’t be afraid of risk. Most people immediately have negative thoughts when they hear that word. When somebody is talking to me about risk, I hear “opportunity”. Starting a business is undoubtedly a risk, but it can be the most rewarding thing you ever do. One of the main things holding people back from starting a business, or from doing anything they want to in life, is self-belief. You have to think: ‘Screw it, just do it’.