This year has been a busy one for the Virgin Group, with Virgin Pulse making new acquisitions, Virgin Hotels breaking ground on new locations, and Virgin Atlantic celebrating 20 years flying to South Africa and launching new routes. But what have the team learnt from all this? We caught up with Josh Bayliss, CEO of Virgin Management, to find out…
What has been your favourite moment in business this year?
There have once again been a lot of great achievements during the year. Moving our investments even deeper into companies that will make a difference to the environment (for example SDCL and Breakthrough Energy Coalition) and to people’s health and wellness (e.g. Virgin Pulse’s acquisitions of Shape Up and Global Corporate Challenge, and Virgin Care being awarded the contract to provide primary care in Bath and the surrounding areas) are especially gratifying.
Having breakfast with the Colombian president - who had just won the Nobel Peace Prize - at Buckingham Palace was an extraordinary moment for me personally.
And closing the financing for our Virgin Voyages ships to be built in Italy over the next few years gives us a great chance to shake up yet another part of the travel business for good.
What have you been proud of Virgin Management for achieving in 2016?
Virgin prides itself on being a fantastic place for its people. We offer a huge range of benefits, which are innovative and challenge other businesses to raise their game, such as unlimited leave, deep focus on diversity and inclusion, a full health and wellness programme and market leading maternity and paternity leave options.
Our people team has done a great job in developing and offering these programmes and they were deservedly awarded the health and wellbeing award at the Personnel Today Awards in November.
What is the most important thing you’ve learnt in business this year?
It’s hard to reflect on 2016 without acknowledging the surprise results in the UK referendum on Brexit and the US General Election. I believe these will both have long term and far reaching consequences, not only for business but for society as a whole, perhaps globally. The lessons we should all learn, I think, are to take nothing for granted, and to listen to all points of view before reaching a decision on what should or will happen.
What do you hope to achieve in business next year?
I expect that we will make great progress in our spaceflight programme for both our spaceship and our low Earth orbit satellite launcher.
And finally, how do you plan to give something back or pay something forward in 2017?
In addition to the various charities my family and I support personally, I am looking forward to spending some of my time in individual challenges.