“The philosophy I shared… was one of ambition – ambition to succeed, ambition to grow, ambition to move forward – backed up by hard work.” – Frank Lowy
It may come as a surprise to many of you that some of the greatest innovators and business moguls of our time came from extremely humble upbringings. You may have heard stories about megastars like Oprah Winfrey who grew up in poor, abusive families and went on to create billion-dollar empires. While Oprah’s rags to riches story are incredibly inspiring, we want to recount a story that may hit a little closer to home for you Aussies.
Who in the world is Frank Lowy?
For those of you who weren’t born and raised in Australia, you may have never heard this guy’s name before. If you were born and raised in Australia, you should feel bad if you’ve never heard this name before (just kidding – no judgement!). Let’s narrow this down a bit. Have you ever heard of Westfield Corporation? Did you go shopping at a Westfield shopping centre last weekend? Well, the guy who owns that shopping centre and all the other Westfield shopping centres is the man of the hour – Mr. Frank Lowy.
According to the 2017 Financial Review Rich List, Lowy was ranked the fourth richest Australian of the year with a net worth of $8.26 billion . How did this business mogul rake in his billions? By owning around 124 shopping malls around the world, that’s how!
Things weren’t always this peachy keen…
Despite Lowy’s success since coming to Australia in 1952, he faced many struggles back in his home continent of Europe while World War II was raging. Lowy was born in Czechoslovakia in 1930 and when WWII broke out, he fled to Budapest, Hungary to avoid being arrested by the Nazis and Hungarian secret police . In a desperate attempt to send his family to a safer place, Lowy’s father ventured out to buy train tickets and never returned. It wasn’t until decades later that Lowy discovered his father was captured, shipped to Auschwitz and brutally tortured until his death at the camp . Lowy made his way to France in 1946 and boarded a ship called Yagur that was heading to Palestine. The ship was intercepted by British authorities and Lowy was sent to a German concentration camp in Cyprus, where he endured terrible things that we could not even begin to fathom . He fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War in Galilee and Gaza and then finally made it to Australia in 1952, where he joined his family who left Europe and fled to the safe waters of Australia several years before him .
Once in Australia, Lowy began a business delivering small goods within his community. In 1953, Lowy met fellow Hungarian immigrant John Saunders who later became his business partner and together they established the Westfield Development Corporation . Saunders sold his stake in the company and left in 1987, and Lowy extended the Westfield corporation throughout Australia and New Zealand .
Want to know his secret?
So, how did this WWII German concentration camp survivor and soldier not only make it through one of Europe’s toughest periods in history but go on to be crowned ‘Australia’s richest self-made entrepreneur’? He sums up the secret to his success in one (rather motivational) quote:
“Never give up! People don’t understand how persistent you have to be. You come up against an obstacle and you have to find a way of moving forward. You take detours, navigate between the obstacles and make it happen. Unless you are very strong and convinced you can succeed, you will be swept away.”
 Stensholt, J. (2017, May 25). Financial Review Rich List. Retrieved from http://www.afr.com/leadership/afr-lists/rich-list/financial-review-rich-list-2017-20170525-gwcvr6  Kumar, M.S. (2012, September 13). Success Story of Frank Lowy: From Surviving the World War II to Becoming Australia’s Richest Entrepreneur. Retrieved from http://brainprick.com/success-story-of-frank-lowy-from-surviving-the-world-war-ii-to-becoming-australias-richest-entrepreneur/