The healthy CEO: Brendan Wright
FAST chief executive Brendan Wright finds charity sporting events are the perfect way of maintaining a fitness program, engaging his employees, spending time with his family and raising money for a worthwhile cause.
Brendan Wright was one of the first names that came to mind when considering who to interview for our Healthy CEO series. As the leader of major mortgage aggregation group FAST, he’s responsible for a network of more than 1,300 finance professionals settling over than $22 billion in loans each year. He also finds time to keep fit with his friends and family while raising money for worthwhile causes.
Has keeping fit always been important to you?
Health and fitness is important. But you can use it to give back as well. I think everyone needs to figure out what drives them. For many people, their source of wellness and happiness is their relationships with their family and close friends. You can be active and healthy, mind and body, by doing activities with your loved ones. That has been a guiding principle for me from an early age.
In fact, I use milestone events in my family (and friends) to engage them in my fitness activities. For instance, my daughter turned 21 this year. There are few more milestone birthdays coming up for which I have already started planning. It’s quite exciting when you combine the two most important passions in your life to achieve a bigger goal (of wellbeing).
What sort of events have you been involved in?
I’ve done many different things over the years. I participated in RideWest quite a few times, which is a 1,200-kilometre bike ride over seven days across outback Queensland from Brisbane to Longreach. We raised a lot of money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
I’ve done plenty of long bike rides, runs and Ironman events. I spent a lot of time training for the Melbourne marathon with my daughter. We did a half marathon together a few years ago.
Do you find these events a good way of managing stress?
For me, it’s all about connecting with family and friends as well as balancing stress and pressure. When I’m training for an event I choose to be competitive and push myself. I use the training regime to de-stress for sure.
Some people have a religious training program. Do you use these events as a way to commit to an exercise regime?
Yes, that’s the way I’ve done it for decades. The goal will be set, depending on the event and the stage I am at in life. I’ve gone from being married with no kids to having three grown kids. Your life changes along the way and so do your goals.
Have you ever had long periods without exercise, or has it always been part of your life?
It has always been a part of my life but I have instances where injury has prevented me from doing what I love. I had a period there where I didn’t think I’d be able to run again due to knee issues and I wasn’t running for about two years. I was cycling, but running was what I really enjoyed. It’s important to do what you enjoy when it comes to keeping fit.
I may not be representing Australia and perhaps I’m not built to be running long distances but I still do it and enjoy it. But I do know what it is like to stop an activity that you enjoy and then start it up again.
How does your health and wellbeing influence your life as a business leader?
I’m fortunate enough to be in a role where I can enable people in giving back to their customers and communities and at FAST we encourage, recognise and pay our team to do just that. Our employees have two paid volunteer days each year which they might use to help those in need, give back to their communities or raise money for a charity.
Can CEOs encourage a culture of wellness within their business?
I have recently spoken to a number of brokers who have created a positive impact in their personal lives and within their business through their transformation in focusing more on their health and wellbeing. It’s great to see business owners doing that as it encourages others in the organisation to make healthy lifestyle choices.
We are also passionate about helping our brokers not only as business owners but more importantly as people to leading a healthy lifestyle. Our confidential counselling and assistance services available to FAST staff are extended to our brokers and their employees. This support helps business owners, either themselves or their employees work through challenging times within their lives.