We came across this photo of the Virgin Records team from the early days and it sent me hurtling down memory lane.
Getting in touch with Nik Powell, my childhood friend and co-founder, he pointed out several of the team, including Corinne, Cynthia, Wendy, Valerie, Binna and Janie. Corinne was Nik’s assistant, which got me thinking about all of the superb assistants we have had over the years.
I love sharing stories about wonderful people from across the Virgin Group, and there are amazing individuals creating brilliant things in all sorts of different departments. But assistants are one part of our teams that arguably don’t get enough praise. Personally, I wouldn’t have achieved half of what I’ve done without my assistants.
Helen knows what I am thinking before I ask her; she can act as my memory and always finds solutions to any issue. Just as importantly, she brings positivity and happiness wherever she goes, making travelling the world together far more enjoyable and productive. I am lucky enough to attend all sorts of interesting events and meet fascinating people while I’m working for our Virgin companies and raising funds for Virgin Unite – Helen ensures this all runs smoothly. Whether we are launching Unite BVI, attending a drug policy debate or introducing a new airline route, Helen adapts to every situation and makes it fun too.
Some people, especially entrepreneurs, think they have to do everything themselves. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Without learning the art of delegation, I would never have made it in business. By sharing my responsibilities and trusting in others who I believe are better than me, we can get so much more done. We have dozens of companies and thousands of employees, and I always have a new idea I am working on. With the logistics and details organised by others, I am free to think about the bigger picture. Without a world-class assistant, this wouldn’t be possible.
I have been fortunate to have a long run of fantastic assistants over the course of my career. Penni travelled with me for 28 years. Sue, Nicola, Saskia, Sarah and Louella all stayed in the Virgin family; they went on from careers as my assistants to working for Virgin Unite, Virgin Management, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic respectively. Sam and Alexia have both gone on to forge their own careers as entrepreneurs after being my assistants, while Emma moved to the US and Caroline started her family with triplets.
My assistants know me better than I know myself, and have put in an unbelievable amount of work, but they know how to play hard too. Without them, the Virgin Group wouldn’t be what it is today. I looked up national assistants day to coincide with this blog, but then I realised I don’t need a milestone to say thank you to all the wonderful assistants I’ve had, and all the great assistants around the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you. If you have an assistant, make sure you show your appreciation for their hard work and talent, and ensure they know how valued they are. I consider Virgin as one big family, and my assistants are among my greatest friends.