A ticket to paradise: Interview mit Ex-Assistenz von Sir Richard Branson
Samantha Cox and Sir Richard Branson © Samantha Cox

A ticket to paradise: Interview mit Ex-Assistenz von Sir Richard Branson

Interview with Samantha Cox, former Executive Assistant to Sir Richard Branson. Can you imagine living on a far away island in the Caribbean with your manager? Samantha Cox did and her manager was no other than the one and only Sir Richard Branson. In this interview she tells working@office about this special role she performed while serving for one of the highest appreciated entrepreneurs.

w@o: Samantha, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us about yourself. Who is Samantha?

Samantha Cox: Diana, thank you so much for wanting to take the time to interview me, my name is Samantha Cox, friends call me Sam, I’m 41 years old and live on the Central Coast on the East coast of Australia, about an hour and a half north of Sydney. I was born in the UK, and lived there until I was in my early twenties. I’m one of 3 sisters, I’ve my older sister and my identical twin. I’m extremely close to my family, even though we are separated by oceans. I’ve lived all over the world and my passion is travel, people, food and adventure.

w@o: What is your professional background and how did you become an assistant?

Samantha Cox: My professional background started in the UK some 20+ years ago. I spent my late teenage years working in France and Greece for holiday companies, looking after holiday guests, which I always loved. It was such a great way to see another country and meet different people. I then moved back to the UK for a couple of years where I had a position as an Office Admin for Toyota GB. I think this is where it really started my path on becoming an assistant. I loved working for Toyota GB and my boss at the time was a real mentor and leader. He encouraged me to get to understand how the business worked and was always tasking me with additional workload, which I loved!

w@o: One of the main roles in your career was supporting Sir Richard Branson as Executive Assistant. How did you land this role?

Samantha Cox: I was 27 when I joined the Virgin family in Australia, I was the EA to the COO of Virgin Blue, which at the time was the low-cost airline in Australia that Brett Godfrey and Richard had founded. It’s now called Virgin Australia. I had been living in Australia for about 4 years and I loved being a part of the airline world and loved being an EA. I was introduced to Richard while he was on a visit to Australia, and he happened to be looking for a new EA. Brett asked me to help host the weekend, and so I got to spend 2 days with Richard and getting to know him, and him me. Richard was told at the end of the weekend that I was interested in becoming his new EA. He asked if I was prepared to move to Necker Island, his home in the British Virgin Islands, and I said “Yes, just had to make sure I liked you first before I came to work for you” which was a little cheeky, but it worked! 2 weeks later I received a call from his office in the UK offering me the position! It was a day in my life that I will never forget. Gives me goosebumps whenever I speak about that time.

w@o: How long did you work for Richard and what was a day like? Routines or not?

Samantha Cox: I joined Richard in 2008 and was with him until 2012. Living on a small private island in the Caribbean took a little getting used to, but I soon got to know Richard well and understand his routine and mine. Days on Necker were pretty structured but while traveling, which was often, routine wasn’t always easy to have. Days on island started early, Richard is an early bird, and as we would be dealing with different Virgin companies around the world, there was always someone/something needing Richard’s time and attention.

w@o: You stayed four years with Richard on his ultra-private Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. What did you enjoy about this time? And what did you miss? 

Samantha Cox: I always ask people to google Necker Island. When they do, the reaction is normally WOW. It’s a beautiful part of our wonderful world and I got to call it home for over 4 years. I’m a very independent person, so sometimes living on a small island had it’s limitations, you can’t just jump in the car and head to the supermarket, or head to a restaurant, but that just took a little getting used to. No matter where I have lived, I always missed my family.

w@o: Sir Richard Branson is well known for his leadership style, the charisma he has and the way he treats people. Tell us about the way you got to explore all this being around him 24/7. What was his leadership to you?

Samantha Cox: Richard is a true leader, I will always feel extremely lucky that I got to support him and learn from him over the years I worked for him. We worked hard but also on my down time played hard. Richard was always asking my opinions about things, and truly listened to my thoughts and ideas. He was very inclusive, and I always felt an important part of the team and of the Virgin Family.

w@o: What was the secret recipe in the end that you worked successfully together for all these years? I know you both laughed a lot and he used to play tricks on you.

Samantha Cox: Like I said, we worked hard and played hard. When you spend extensive amount of time with your boss, I believe you build a strong relationship based on trust and loyalty. These lessons I learnt which helped shape my future success.  

 

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