Businessman Owen Glenn has a lot to say on the direction of New Zealand, even though he spends most of his time travelling outside it. That travel and deep immersion in other countries actually makes him better able to see what this country needs to do to succeed.
Mr Glenn believes there should be much more accountability for government spending, and more effort put into developing enterprise; we should stop paying lip service to innovation and invest more in talented New Zealanders — though he is not opposed to foreign investment; New Zealand needs to stand up for itself when it comes to free trade and not let itself be bullied.
The multimillionaire businessman is also a rare — for this country — public philanthropist, having given away $35 million to good causes and being happy to discuss how that money is making a difference.
Earlier this year he sold his global logistics business for close to $500m, and this week he pledged $80m to prevent child abuse and family violence in New Zealand — calling our high abuse rates “a great shame” on the people of this country.
The first $8m is going into a pilot scheme to educate young men in Otara, where Mr Glenn lived for two years as a child in the 1960s. Called Coaching Boys into Men, it will target young men through education, enterprise and sport, and provide them with positive role models and, hopefully, the respect needed to ensure they become good members of the community. If it is successful, similar schemes will be rolled out around the country.
“Education allows people to succeed, allows people to dream and allows people to achieve whatever their dreams are — and that’s fundamentally what it’s all about,” said Mr Glenn, who had no tertiary education himself, at a launch on Tuesday at the Otara Music and Arts Centre.
Congratulations Mr Glenn, you are an inspiration to us all to do good, to believe in ourselves and the potential of all around us, and to be smarter in how we face our challenges and grab opportunities.