Curiosity Expert: Jean Oelwang
Chief Operating Officer, Virgin Unite
Jean is the CEO of Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group. In her previous life, Jean lived and worked on five continents helping to lead successful mobile phone start-ups in South Africa, Colombia, Bulgaria, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and the US.
Jean has long explored the overlap of the business and social sectors and has been involved in both, having worked for the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife in Australia, and in numerous volunteer roles, including a stint as a VISTA volunteer where she worked with – and learned from - homeless teens in Chicago.
In 2003 she was joint CEO of Virgin Mobile in Australia when she was asked to work with Richard Branson and the Virgin staff around the world to create Virgin Unite. The team works with Virgin's many businesses worldwide and other entrepreneurs and business leaders to help put driving positive change at their core. Virgin Unite also works with partners to create entrepreneurial approaches to social and environmental issues, for example, the Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg and the Rural Transport Network in Kenya.
Jean and Virgin Unite have also helped to incubate a number of global leadership initiatives such as The Elders, the Carbon War Room and Enterprise Zimbabwe. Jean sits on the Advisory Board of The Elders, the Board of the Carbon War Room and on the Board of the Bushbuckridge Health and Wellness Trust.