My favourite night of the year is Virgin Stars, a party where we host many incredible Virgin people from all over the world. There is no better feeling than bringing together our Virgin family - to share their stories and experiences - and to celebrate their success.
Over a decade after joining Virgin, I am still blown away by the innovative thinking, the passion and the desire to make a positive difference in the lives of not only our customers but our colleagues, which drives so many Virgin people. At our annual Virgin Stars event I get to spend time with some of my colleagues, from around the world, who are driving our business forward as a force for good.
Being purpose-driven means doing things for the best reasons, and always seeking the best solutions - because it’s the right thing to do. It’s so wonderful to see so many Virgin companies embedding purpose at the heart of everything they do. This year, I had the unique opportunity to celebrate and share many purpose-led stories from across Virgin, when I published my first book WEconomy: how to find meaning, make a living and change the world. But since publication in March there have also been many great initiatives from some of our newer companies that I’d like to share.
This July, I spent the most incredible day with Virgin Voyages in their Miami office. The team at Voyages - through their sailor experience, the trust and value they place on their crew, their environmental impact and their community engagement - are creating a business that will truly create an epic sea change for all. And they are doing it from day one – embedding purpose in to the heart of every aspect of their business. While there, I got to meet the wonderful Paulette Haedo, who has a passion for purpose in all she does – and she fosters the same sense of purpose in everyone she comes in contact with. She also happens to have the most amazing laugh. Every company only benefits from purpose ambassadors like Paulette.
At Virgin how we view our responsibility to our wider community is critical. Virgin Sport is all about making sport irresistible, inclusive and entertaining. Passionate people such as Sean Taylor, who has made it his mission to open up sport to unlikely and disadvantaged groups. He champions amazing causes such as gender equality and is determined, through clever charity partnerships, to engage often ignored communities within deprived areas to take part in our events. Sean’s drive is to make mass participation events accessible for all.
The epitome of ‘what is the most we can do?’ is Colen Hoffman from Virgin Limited Edition – he embraces VLE’s exceptional personal service and engagement with the local community to his very core. As maintenance Supervisor at Mont Rochelle, Colen is one of the property’s greatest assets! Not only is he always ready to respond to guests’ needs, even out of hours, but also extends his personal service ethos to his team – ensuring they have all the equipment and training they need. And if that wasn’t enough to make him a Star, amazingly, in October last year, Colen saved the life of a small child from a near-drowning incident, doing so without any formal training and reacting purely on instinct.
Colen was not the only lifesaver in the room for Virgin Stars. It was also great to recognise Rosie Brewer from Virgin Australia who, while on a layover in Canberra, came to the aid of a man who was unconscious. She gave life-saving CPR for 12 full minutes, was praised by the emergency services and now shares her story in the hope that other people can save lives.
Where possible a company’s purpose should also foster and promote education, opportunities and unlock the potential of future generations. At Virgin Orbit, engineer Hannah McCallum is doing just that. All while helping design the rocket engine to get us into space. She is leading Virgin Orbit’s community outreach programmes covering Orbit Unite, STEM and Yuri’s kids, organising dozens of volunteering events. Hannah is constantly challenging the Virgin Orbit team to open up space for everyone and challenges our community’s youth to dream and drive for bigger things.
It was great to celebrate some key individuals making great change across Virgin – but I wish I could have mentioned every single person who worked for Virgin. The people who work with us truly are what make Virgin so special.