Prior to creating Virgin Atlantic, Richie Branson was the head of Virgin Records, a record company he created in the mid-1970's. One day, back in early 1984, a friend asked him if he wanted to start 747 service from London to New York. Branson happily said yes, and ordered one Boeing 747-200(G-VIRG, I believe) to launch that route. But, he realized that in order to get his new airline info full swing, he needed more money. As a result of this dilemma, Branson sold Virgin Records to EMI Latin(another record company) for over 1 billion U.S. dollars. As a result of this sale, Branson's newly acquired billions served him well to order more aircraft and expand his airline. The rest, is history.
As far as Branson's status in the company, I know that he is the CEO. But I believe there are other people in the company who serve as CFO, COO, CIO etc. I do not know for sure. Hope this helps.