Sir Owen Glenn, author of Making a Difference, a memoir of global business and philanthropy, was the founder, owner and executive chairman of the OTS Logistics Group, a truly integrated global transport conglomerate, which he sold in 2012. A graduate of Harvard Business School, he is an internationally-recognised leader in the logistics industry and an inspiration to others. The Glenn Family Foundation charitable organisation, which he founded and chairs, is active in the USA, the UK, Australia, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Fijis, China and New Zealand. In 2005 he contributed NZ$7.5 million to the University of Auckland Business School which bears his name, and established the Barry Spicer and Owen G Glenn PhD Scholarships. He also supports a range of other causes, including the AUT-Millennium Institute of Sport and Health, Variety — the children’s charity, and New Zealand Hockey. He contributed $1 million to the reconstruction of Christchurch following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, and in 2012 launched an $80 million programme to combat child abuse, including an independent inquiry called the Glenn Inquiry (www.glenninquiry.co.nz). In 2008 he became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and in 2013 he was appointed Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to philanthropy. In 2010 he won the Paul Harris Fellowship Rotary Award, and in 2012 was made an Honorary Fellow of CPA (FCPA), and received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Auckland. In 2012 he was also awarded the Sir Bob Owen Award and made a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Logistics and Transport of New Zealand.
Over the years, Glenn has gained publicity following his frank views on governments and policy, education and sporting facilities. Sir Owen is an astute businessman who is very happy to put his money where his mouth is, and, importantly, he is a fiercely loyal New Zealander, who has also supported the New Zealand horse-racing industry and many educational and philanthropic causes both in New Zealand and around the world.
A self-made multi-millionaire, as a child Glenn came to New Zealand from India and lived in a working-class area in Auckland. He is widely admired for his business acumen and his generosity, and his belief that people need to be educated on the practice and rewards of giving. A renowned philanthropist in his own right, ‘Mad Butcher’ Sir Peter Leitch has called Glenn ‘the person they invented the word philanthropist for’.
In Making a Difference — this ‘amazing and inspiring story about a man who rose from a humble start to make a difference for people’ — Glenn traces the journey to his phenomenal business success (‘from humility to greatness’— New Zealand Business) and reveals the underlying philosophies he has learnt on the journey; in particular, that of giving (‘No contribution, whether it be money, time or some other resource, is too small to give.’) and of targeting giving to where it can make the most difference (‘I believe that any gesture, large or small, makes a difference. There’s no point in giving, to a cause or to an individual, unless you are somehow going to make a difference in their lives.’).In reviewing Glenn’s memoir, the Northern Advocate identified ‘a driven individualist, unafraid to back his own instincts’. While enjoying the book’s wealth of ‘entertaining anecdotes’ and ‘easy-going style that reflects his frank, no-nonsense approach to life’, the reviewer captured the mood of many by resting his focus finally on ‘this … loyal New Zealander who is using his wealth to improve the lot of the less-fortunate’.