Richard Branson Holds Q&A Session with McDonough School of Business Students

May 11, 2010

While visiting Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business for a conference on Creating Climate Wealth on April 21, Sir Richard Branson hosted a question and answer session with students in Lohrfink Auditorium.

“A Conversation with Richard Branson” featured a candid discussion with the self-made billionaire that touched on topics ranging from overcoming dyslexia to becoming an entrepreneur, from supporting electric cars at home to thinking green in developing countries, and from airline mergers to land-grabbing in Africa.

When asked about the best advice he had received, Branson talked about how his parents taught him the value of caring people. From that, he soon learned “A business is its people. There's nothing more than the people. One airplane: Boeing sells the same plane to Continental, to American, to Virgin America. It's the spirit of the people inside that tube that's going to make the difference to somebody actually flying on it,” he said.

Branson also was questioned about building sustainable businesses in developing countries. He said that the beginnings of a good business focus on understanding the issues that the people in the community are facing and being sensitive to them. “All companies in the future should think of themselves as creating business as a force for good, and every aspect of their company should be thinking that way,” he said. “It's just basically running your company in a humane, human way…If you can look after your own workforce that's a great first step.”

At the event, Branson was introduced by Dan Schlesinger, a first-year MBA student who was part of the planning committee for the Creating Climate Wealth Conference.

In addition, 150 students and faculty attended Branson’s keynote and the opening session for the conference, which featured Branson; Craig Cogut, founder and co-manager, Pegasus Capital Advisors; Jose Maria Figueres, former president of Costa Rica and CEO, World Economic Forum; Sara Greenstein, senior vice president and chief strategy officer, Underwriters Laboratories; David Steiner, CEO, Waste Management; and Steven Wenc, president, UL Environment. It was moderated by Andrew Winston of Eco-strategies.

Branson is founder and chairman of the Virgin Group and co-founder of the Carbon War Room, a non-profit organization that harnesses the power of entrepreneurs to implement market-driven solutions to climate change. Virgin is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands and has expanded into everything from air and group travel to telecommunications, health, space travel, and renewable energy through more than 200 companies worldwide, employing approximately 50,000 people in 29 countries.

Presented by the Carbon War Room and Earth Day Network, Creating Climate Wealth convened respected entrepreneurs for two days in Washington, D.C., jointly with a selected group of Intrapreneurs from the government, non-profit, and corporate communities to provide their insights and expertise on the policies, market frameworks, and programs that will clear the barriers to deliver these emission reductions and promote job creation. Learn more at