Branson coming to Surrey economic summit

Fourth richest man in the UK, self-made billionaire Sir Richard Branson will speak on the importance of innovation

Sir Richard Branson

World renowned entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is coming to Surrey this fall.

After years of wanting him, and months actively working to secure him, the Surrey Regional Economic Summit has secured Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, as the featured speaker at the summit.

Coun. Linda Hepner, one of the summit organizers, has said for years she’s wanted Branson at the Oct. 4 event.

“It has been a while, because he is really, really tough to nail down,” Hepner said. “He goes through a board of directors that manage his schedule and his speaking. It was not simple.”

Hepner said summit organizers began working to get Branson last year, and worked on it in earnest for the last five months.

This year’s event will highlight changes in the world economies, and the importance of innovation and leadership in attracting business worldwide.

“I would expect he’s going to talk about how you turn those ideas that you may have into real opportunity and how you deal with the challenges of that real opportunity,” Hepner said.

Branson is one of the world’s best known entrepreneurs and is the only person ever to create eight separate billion-dollar companies, each in a different sector.

Mayor Dianne Watts said securing Branson has been a coup.

“Sir Richard Branson has been a transformational leader in the international business community and someone who has turned incredible challenges into opportunities that have changed people’s lives and the way we live,” Watts said in a release.

Branson, whose Virgin Atlantic Airways begins scheduled service between Vancouver and London later this month, said the Surrey Summit will be a chance for him to share his perspective on the importance of innovation and creativity as the world’s economy comes out from under the international downturn.

The one-day summit will also include two sessions titled: “America, Europe and Asia: Choices and Challenges on the Road to Recovery” and “Voting on the Future: The Domestic and International Impact of the American Presidential Election.”

Over the past four years, the Surrey Summit has attracted a variety of prominent international speakers and presenters, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Rudy Giuliani, and Steve Forbes, as well as business and economic commentators from Canada, the USA, Asia and Britain.

Registration for the 2012 Surrey Regional Economic Summit will begin once the conference program has been finalized.


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