If you had asked Ingrid Osborne, Co-Founder of HSEC Online, 20 years ago if she could have pictured herself as one of 60 businessmen and women (only South African) in a room with Richard Branson and his Virgin Execs, her response would have been absolutely!
Only because she’s that driven, motivated and passionate about changing the world around her and the world at large!
So, did she find herself in a room with thee Sir Richard Branson? Yes, most certainly she did, she spent the week with him! Through HSEC Online’s win with Endeavor South Africa and FNB for most ‘Innovative Business’ in 2018, Ingrid was invited by Endeavor as a candidate to participate in Branson’s Leader’s Experience – Finding My Virginity and landed the opportunity of a lifetime!
The backdrop to this amazing experience was his private home – Necker Island. After 36 hours of flight time, 3 stops, one little island hopper, Ingrid Osborne landed on Necker Island, not sure what to expect over the next five days. There was however something Osborne was certain about – she was ready to “Find Her Virginity” and have an ‘out-of-business’ experience!
The concept behind this exclusive, transformational ‘Finding My Virginity – Leader’s Experience’ programme was designed to inspire vision, and activate a network of global leaders.
“This was a great opportunity to engage with other extraordinary entrepreneurs and some rather special executives at Virgin Group such as Jason Felts, CEO of Virgin Produced; Christine Choi, Brand And Communications Executive; Latif Peracha, Managing Director at Virgin Management; Luca Valotta President and Managing Director Of Virgin Active Italy and Virgin Active Group Commercial Innovations Director and finally Stephen Attenborough, Commercial Director, Virgin Galactic.”
So what do 60 businessmen and women, Richard Branson and some of Virgin’s heavyweight executives get up to on an island (other than having a sushi boat in a pool)?
“We spent a lot of time engaged in what Virgin is and how the brand was built and looked at a case study of ‘Virgin: Building a brand, building a business’. We then spent time learning to craft an approach to communications with Virgin strategist, Christine Choi and finally discussed developing a vision for our businesses through customer experience and design. I was blown away by how accommodating and invested everyone was in the present moment. It was quality time spent with extraordinary entrepreneurs sharing vast amounts of knowledge and experience.”
What did Osborne take back from this experience?
“Whilst I didn’t expect the opportunity to change me fundamentally as a person or my business, the opportunity to have 5 days out of my business, to focus on looking at my business and goals through a new lens, has crystallised an ethos in me which I have already begun to apply. In simple terms it’s about being bold, and not waiting for anything to come to me but to be even more cognizant of my own ability to make things happen, both for my business and for my country.”
Wrapping up this incredible learning experience, the group spent the last day discussing Virgin Galactic with Stephen Attenborough and the amazing work they are doing trying to get ordinary people, like you and me to space.
“When companies embark on project like Virgin Galactic, you can’t help but be inspired; be inspired to go and make the same difference within your company and country. When invited by Stephen to join Richard’s VIP waiting list to be a budding Astronaut and “Fly me to the Moon”, I thought about what it would mean to me and everyone around me. South Africa is such a special place, with such a mix of incredible people, sitting precariously on a sensitive past, trying to find a way forward that is beneficial for all. We are currently struggling as a country to combat the enormous amount of corruption that comes in the aftermath of any hard-fought democracy, and right now, seem to be surrender by chaos and confusion.
But South African’s all have one thing in common, we really know how to come together and celebrate our achievements. When a South African wins, we all win! These events fundamentally change the entire mood of the country; we smile, we celebrate and for as long as it lasts, we are united in our victory.
When Madiba stepped out in the number 6 jersey after we won the Rugby world cup and Joel Stransky kicked that winning drop kick; we celebrated for days, the lingering effect of this event would last us a decade.
When Mark Shuttleworth went to space, schools radioed him in space, again, this event took South Africa by storm and he was able to influence and inspire all South Africans.
Caster Semenya, you can’t help but feel fiercely protective when saying her name.
And then these guys, The Ndlovu Youth Choir, they have already won the hearts of all South Africans.
There’s is so much about this country that works, sometimes we just need to be reminded of that. I was reminded of that while on Necker island and I was reminded of the extraordinary things ordinary people can do to change the world and I will always be grateful for that.”
And finally, what motto did you come away with?
“Humanity, humility and humour. These are three things we can all take away with us to ensure lifelong happiness!”