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WHAT WEALTH MEANS TO ME - Sir Owen Glenn

People & Companies / Profiles

Australia

May 27 2019

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Sir Owen pictured with grandson Bladyn, executive assistant Lisa McLaughlin and Glenn Family Helps VP, Lauren Reeves.

Sir Owen Glenn KNZM OZNM LLD (Hon) has been awarded a knighthood by Her Majesty the Queen for his global philanthropic work and business achievements. He has started companies built them, bought and sold them to private equity companies and then started again. He has had group one winning race horses and been awarded a graduate degree OPM15 from Harvard. Sir Owen has homes in Knightsbridge, Sydney, Fiji and New Zealand & his Sydney-based horse farm is widely acknowledged to breeding the best broodmares in Australia.

Over the course of his life his family and philanthropic endeavors have been front and center and formed the core and fabric of Sir Owens’ life and travels and expanding global footprint. When thinking of how to describe Sir Owen Glenn, the word 'ubiquitous' comes to mind and funnily enough this is a word he is wedded to, “it means being everywhere at the one time” he says, "I love this word and it’s what I stand for". Ubiquitous has been the name he has also given to his two yachts. His family crest has the slogan “Alte Pete’ which means ‘Aim high’ in Latin and aim high he certainly does. 

Born and growing up as a young boy in India’s Calcutta to British parents, Sir Owen Glenn was one of two brothers sent to a Catholic boarding school where he was educated by nuns and Christian brothers. Moving to New Zealand in 1952 he finished his schooling and played representative hockey, of which to this day he is a passionate and avid supporter.  

Moving to London after finishing school and living in a share house with a bunch of ex-pats, Owen worked on building sites and was the lift attendant at Harrods. From there he started working in logistics, which he got a taste for, starting his own shop when he was in his mid-thirties, with a young family and all of the usual pressures, and a meager $20,000 in start up capital. He sold that company to start another. Fast forward to 2012 and Owen had grown his latest logistics company to be one of the top five largest non-vessel owning logistics businesses in the world, with offices in each continent around the globe.  That company sold to an Egyptian private equity company and on the cusp of his 80’th birthday this year, he is speeding up the velocity & expansion of his global philanthropic Glenn Family Foundation Helps (GFF Helps) footprint rather than slowing down. 

Young at heart, affectionally called “SOGGY” (the acronym for Sir Owen George Glenn) by close friends and family, MP talks to Sir Owen George Glenn about “What Wealth Means to Me”.

Snapshot:   

On family and friends: “Be quick to forgive. Friends and family are my lifeblood – when we were young & growing up, we would get a bus-load of friends as much fish and chips and beer as we would buy and have a day out at the beach where we would play sport and have a ball. Nothing has changed, only the food and trimmings of the party slightly better!”   

On money: “I have never spent a dollar I don’t have, if I can’t afford it, I have denied myself until I could. Once you make your first million the rest becomes a game”.

On integrity: “your word is your bond. Honor your word. Always”. 

On Sport: ”I love sport, which is why I support it so heavily, I love how it brings people together and creates a community”.

On business: “You need to be able to pivot at short notice” 

MP: What does wealth mean to you? 

OGG: Pays the bills

MP: Does wealth and having money mean the same thing?

OGG: Yes

MP: What does ‘building wealth’ mean to you, what builds wealth?

OGG: Its just money and its availability 

MP: What does success mean to you?

OGG: Using your God-given talents 

MP: The difference between talent and skill?

OG: Talent is a god given virtue and skill is personal development.

MP: You are on the cusp of your 80th birthday and speeding up rather than slowing down, what’s a rich life, well-lived to you?

OGG:  Waking up in the morning and as Steve Jobs said: “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today was the last day of my life would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need  to change something.” 

MP: Time vs Money – what’s the relationship to each other in your view? 

OG: None really. Time passes whether one succeeds or fails, ie earns wealth or not. That’s why I don’t think they have a relationship.

MP: One or some of your most proud moments?

OG: Many many small things, graduating from Harvard, the birth of my children, a good round of golf, scoring a goal in hockey as a striker.

MP: What would you say your key motivators are?

OGG: Hunger Pride and Friendship 

MP: Why logistics?

OGG: I stumbled into it 

MP: What was your first philanthropic endeavor?

OGG: Supporting my mother father and brother

MP: Can you give a snapshot of current GFF Helps activities?

OGG: It fills four A4 Pages

MP: Why sport?

OGG: Why not? What else is there apart from Philanthropy? 

MP: Which are your favorite GFF Helps projects and why?

OG: There are many but children, the elderly and the disadvantaged are paramount. 

MP: Entrepreneurialism vs investing, are they the same skill set?

OG: The first personal effort and the second savvy!! 

MP: Can you give some detail on your Indian GFF Helps operations?

OG: Rescuing women and children from trafficking 

MP: What are your longer-term goals and ambitions with GFF Helps?

OG: Just keep helping the underprivileged 

MP: What is it in you that drives your hunger to help and your huge capacity for empathy? Is it a key experience?

OG: It’s a god given impulse and being born with two caring parents.

MP: What is your best advice when it comes to entrepreneurship & building business?

OG: Determination, patience, caution.

MP: What is your best advice when it comes to investing?

OGG: Risk what you can afford to lose.

MP: What have been some of the biggest lessons you have learned in life and business?

OGG: Choose your partners carefully, be kind but firm.

MP: Are there any small co-incidences in your life which have in fact ended up led to big changes in your life?

OGG: Attending Harvard Business School & some key personalities. I think I give the credit to the formation of my being a voracious reader of books in general but biographies in particular. I like learning from successful politicians, humanitarians, statesmen, athletes- people that succeed in their chosen profession.

MP: Do you believe in serendipity? 

OGG: No

MP: Spiritual or religious or other, is there a higher power and a greater meaning in your view?

OGG: Definitely. I only wish it was more in touch with reality.

MP: Do you have any regrets?

OG: Yes, unsuccessful marriages. 

MP: Is there anyone you haven’t yet met who you’d like to meet?

OG: Anyone wiser than me, and there are a lot of them.

MP: What’s your idea of fun?

OGG: Laughing, singing and being with friends and family. 

MP: What is the plan for your 80th birthday celebration?

OGG: A party for family and friends at a suitable venue over 4 days including shows, golf, and fellowship.

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