CFO Glenn Fullerton – the man who doctors said will never work again

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CFO Glenn Fullerton – the man who doctors said will never work again

Dec 29, 2023 | Interviews

After working for several listed entities, including Rembrandt and Malbak which included Kohler Packaging and SA Druggists (which later became Aspen) in the 1990s, Glenn Fullerton was appointed CFO of MB Technologies Group or MBT (today Tarsus Technology Group) in 2000. In 2008, this chartered accountant and cycling and golfing enthusiast, became the CEO of Africa’s largest technology distributor. In his spare time, Glenn took part in many enduring cycle events such as the 116-kilometre Ride for Sight race in Johannesburg that he signed up for in February 2013.

The crash

All was going well, and Glenn was confident he would complete the race in his fastest time. But then, with only ten kilometres to go, there was a steep decline in the road and suddenly two bikes ahead of him had a violent coming together. Glenn and a dozen other cyclists had no time to react. He went flying over his handlebars crashing forcefully into the hot tarmac, with his head, neck, right shoulder and ribs breaking his fall.

As the paramedics attended to Glenn, tears streamed down his face. The searing pain he experienced told him he had sustained very serious injuries. His thoughts flashed to his former boss, Leo Baxter, founder of Tarsus Technologies and MBT, whose life was turned upside down in 2007 when he had a terrible accident while playing polo and became a quadriplegic. After his accident, Leo continued to chair board meetings during which Glenn would assist him with different tasks, including turning pages of reports, giving him something to drink and putting his glasses on and off.

Laying on the tarmac that day, he knew he would be lucky to survive and might face permanent disability. The good news was that he didn’t die.

The bad news was that medical specialists told him he would never be able to work again and was likely to face permanent disability. This was a diagnosis that Glenn stubbornly refused to accept.

Glenn experienced what doctors call vertical shearing of a portion of the right side of his brain which affected his short-term memory. Glenn would forget a person’s name two minutes after an introduction. He was house bound for months and went through multiple surgeries and physiotherapy sessions to help him regain mobility.

Health is wealth

Before the accident, amongst his other roles in the MBT Group, Glenn was the chairman of the Group Provident Fund that offered extensive insurance covers provided by Sanlam including death and disability benefits.  He never thought he would be a beneficiary of the fund and is thankful to this day for the support Sanlam gave him during the two years he was undergoing rehabilitation. It was the lowest point of his life, a period of sever shoulder, neck and rib pain and headaches. When his wife Lauren or his late father would drive him to the hospital for treatments, a minute bump in the road would feel like someone was cutting his neck with a hacksaw.

Other than his physical struggles, his mental health was challenged by a sense of abandonment. ‘What I learnt from the experience was that your health is your number one asset on your balance sheet,’ Glenn says.

‘Your next best assets are your family and close friends who will be with you during times of adversity. The business world moves on quickly and corporates will replace you at the drop of a hat as they have investor returns to worry about. You quickly become lonely because even if people mean well, they get busy and before they know it, a month has passed without them having checked on you. The days were long and the nights extremely painful whilst I recovered from my injuries.’

It took tremendous willpower and countless hours of therapy for Glenn to regain his short-term memory and physical well-being.  His tenacious and optimistic personality was tested to the limit. He kept a never say die attitude to life and maintained a resolve to overcome this hurdle life had thrown his way. Glenn’s rehabilitation programme required hundreds of hours of both physical and mental exercises and demonstrates that the human spirit can overcome adversity with the right grit and determination to succeed.

This article is an extract from the book Masters of Money – Strategies for Success from the CFOs of South Africa’s Biggest Companies available here – https://www.takealot.com/masters-of-money/PLID90121297?gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAiAyp-sBhBSEiwAWWzTnmLGsW3EWthrsEzrN69lcPhFqkxkQjPsxSF6CHoP2oj6-XRBtDB5gBoCfA8QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

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