“I regard every opportunity I get to spend with Sir Richard Branson as a great moment of success- not many people are privileged enough to be around this great man”, says Darrin Thomas, a 2007 The IIE Diploma in Public Relations graduate from Varsity College Sandton, who is the Marketing and Communications Executive for Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.
Darrin’s responsibilities include ensuring that the correct advertising and public relations pieces are successfully rolled out into the South African market. He works closely with the sales teams and their big clients in South Africa to ensure that they experience “the out of the ordinary”, as they have come to expect, with Virgin Atlantic. Coming up with new and exciting projects is possibly one of the best parts Darrin’s job. “I work closely with markets around the world and am fortunate enough to travel overseas on a regular basis, as I host various media and public relations trips”, says Darrin
Darrin’s most notable work achievement to date is being the first to launch an album in the sky and then winning the Virgin Atlantic Global PR award for the project.
He feels that his studies adequately prepared him for his job, but it was something he only realised at a later stage. He had worked in advertising before he moved across to the marketing and PR field. “My Varsity College qualification was a great building block to get me where I am today”, adds Darrin.
Darrin’s career path included many different roles. He started in events and thought he loved it until he moved into below-the-line advertising. He then worked in above-the-line advertising and worked on some amazing accounts including Virgin Atlantic. He made many TV adverts and won a couple of advertising awards. He has spent about six years in the industry - an amazing fun, fast paced environment which he would not had left had he not been given the carer opportunity at Virgin Atlantic.
Darrin’s advice to students looking for or about to embark on their first job is to read Sir Richard Branson’s books. “I am not being biased, he gives you things to think about”, says Darrin.
“Stand out from the crowd, make sure people remember you. Travel, it’s the only way you grow and learn. Traveling teaches you things you will never learn in a lecture,” advises Darrin.
In closing, says Darrin, and to quote Sir Richard Branson: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”