Making a Difference
I must admit to knowing very little about Sir Owen Glenn’s background prior to his media exposure in recent years. It wasn’t until I read this book that I realised just how humble his beginnings really were. Born in Calcutta, India, and raised in South Auckland, he developed an incredibly strong work ethic from a […]
I must admit to knowing very little about Sir Owen Glenn’s background prior to his media exposure in recent years. It wasn’t until I read this book that I realised just how humble his beginnings really were. Born in Calcutta, India, and raised in South Auckland, he developed an incredibly strong work ethic from a very young age which, assisted by a razor-sharp business mind, propelled him up the success ladder in the international logistics industry – where he was essentially a pioneer.
But there’s no way you can summarise Owen Glenn’s life in a few sentences. Thankfully, at age 72, with his global transport conglomerate safely sold off, he has finally found the time to put pen to paper, to draw back the curtains on a truly remarkable business career and reveal his ambitions for his philanthropic work – mostly delivered through the Glenn Family Foundation (GFF), which he founded more than 30 years ago.
Making a Difference is an easy, informative and entertaining book to read. Owen Glenn has no shortage of stories to tell and he relates them very well. At just 240 pages it’s a concise memoir of a life well-lived – it’s almost too short, as I found myself wanting more.
It’s truly eye-opening to learn just how many individuals and organisations around the world have benefited from the generosity of this one man. In addition to his high-profile contributions to the likes of the University of Auckland Business School, AUT Millennium Institute of Sport and Health and New Zealand Hockey, there have been countless donations to worthy causes and situations – anywhere Glenn sees a real need.
In the book he also reveals the considerable goals he has for the GFF’s latest project: ‘Help: Make a Difference’ – a project that has the central focus of breaking intergenerational cycles of family violence and child abuse and neglect in this country, with the Otara community chosen as the initial test-bed.
Written in Glenn’s no-nonsense and frank style, Making a Difference provides a window into the mind of one of this country’s most successful businessmen – revealing his thoughts on people, on business, about the way the world works. Every chapter is peppered with entertaining anecdotes, because life, for Glenn, has also always been about having fun.
With so much time spent away overseas on business, it’s not surprising that his first marriage suffered. Glenn, understandably, doesn’t linger on this aspect of his life. But he does share his thoughts on a whole raft of issues – from Winston Peters (“how can a country elect someone who, when he held the privileged portfolio of Foreign Minister, was actually proven to have lied to Parliament?”) to the New Zealand economy, managing a global business, and business strategy (“I like playing chess and I think like that in business; I think five moves ahead.”).
I especially liked what he has to say about philanthropy, “I believe that any gesture, large or small, makes a difference. There’s no point in giving, to a cause or an individual, unless you are somehow going to make a difference in their lives.”
Sir Owen Glenn is indeed impacting many lives. Read this book and you can’t help but admire the man and what he believes in. He is clearly in love with New Zealand and is keen to see the country prosper.
Making a Difference will inspire you; it highlights all that is good in the human spirit – from humility to greatness. That pretty much sums up the book’s author.
Published by Random House NZ.