Oar-Inspiring Odyssey: Bryan Fuller MBA’04 to Row Across the Ocean for Vets

Bryan Fuller MBA’04 is setting out with three others to row from Boston to London starting in June this year. It will take about 50 days and cover 3,500 miles with only satellite radios connecting them to the rest of the world. This ambitious expedition is a personal goal, an awareness campaign for Fuller’s Rowing studio in Brighton, and last but not least, a fundraiser seeking to secure $50,000 for veterans of Community Rowing, a local program that helps vets adjust to civilian life. As a former Sergeant, it’s the same program that helped Fuller find a sense of community and belonging in 2011.

Bryan Fuller’s trajectory, from his time as a counterintelligence agent to his current role as founder and owner of Power Rowing Studio, is marked by resilience. While dealing with PTSD, Fuller exited the military and entered into civilian life in 2000, a rough time for the job market. This was right after the dotcom bubble burst and tech job layoffs were occurring daily. With no luck finding a befitting job, he lived in a tiny apartment and often walked from Allston to Government Center, where he held a position in fast food. Eventually, he found an administrative role at an environmental firm. With some momentum building, he took the GMAT and applied to the then Boston University, School of Management. Fuller modestly says he shouldn’t have got in, but because of it, the course of his life changed completely.

Fuller recounts a class he initially thought would be a complete waste of time, an Excel class with Professor Jay Zagorsky. “If it weren’t for that class, I would not have succeeded at Deloitte,” says Fuller. After getting his MBA in 2004, where he went through the rigorous GME program abroad in Japan, his position as an auditor at Deloitte had him working in Excel almost every minute of his working day. Professor Zagorsky received a half “Thank You,” half “Sorry” email from Fuller that year and hung it on his office bulletin board for some time. Professor Jay Zagorsky remembers Fuller and says “Not many people had goals as lofty as he had.”

It wasn’t until 2011 that Bryan Fuller became obsessed with rowing. After finding no treadmills available in a busy gym, he tried out a rowing machine on a whim. It was like love at first sight.

Bryan Fuller, MBA'04
Bryan Fuller, MBA’04

Fuller joined Community Rowing Inc. shortly after. In 2012, he made his first transatlantic row and became the fastest American to do so. His 2012 row also raised $10,000 for Community Rowing veterans. Fuller’s voyage from Boston to London in June of 2024 will be his second on the Atlantic Ocean. This time, Fuller is pursuing another goal: to beat the 43-day world record for the North Atlantic Ocean. Succeeding also means Fuller will become the fastest person to circle the Atlantic Ocean.

This awe-inspiring mission would never have been set in motion if Fuller hadn’t had the courage to quit his stressful auditing and accounting career in 2016. As his love affair with rowing was now unstoppable and after 12 years of working for companies that were too focused on “turning a nickel into 6 cents,” Fuller quit his job, put everything into storage, and moved to Bali for three months. Bryan recommends Bali to anyone thinking about switching careers.  “Go there and find yourself, I promise you are out there somewhere. We get so lost in our lives that revolve around waking, working, and sleeping.”

Shortly after, Fuller drafted the most impressive business plan that Cambridge Savings Bank had ever seen, and received a loan to launch Power Rowing, LLC. Fuller’s Rowing Studio in Brookline, MA, is now his full-time job where he leads operations and teaches classes. In March, Fuller and his crew “The London Calling,” will start gearing up for the big row.

If the crew can beat the world record as planned, the trip should take them 40 days from Boston to the Isles of Scilly, 30 miles off the coast of mainland England. The rest of their journey will take 5-10 days and track up through the English Channel, around the many small peninsulas of England’s southern border, and end with a left turn up the River Thames where they will port in London.

The crew’s 28-foot row boat.

Having learned from mistakes made during the last row, Captain Fuller will run a tight ship – pun intended. Safety standards will be of the utmost importance. As Captain, Fuller is responsible for knowing how to fix anything on the 28-foot row boats, understanding and complying with maritime law, and overseeing operations such as cleaning, navigating, food prep, and more.

“It’s like managing a business. A lot of the managerial skills I use come directly from my Organizational Behavior classes [at Questrom],” says Fuller. “Everyone should know exactly what they’re responsible for and their role in the whole process.” So far, the crew is made up of Dr. John Lowry, Elizabeth Gilmore, and Fuller himself. The London Calling crew is seeking a fearless fourth rower and welcomes inquiries via email. 

Fuller is also keenly aware that the journey on the North Atlantic Ocean will be much more dangerous than his last row from Spain to Barbados on the South Atlantic Ocean. Temperatures will be colder and cross-currents will be numerous and unpredictable. The water will be as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning if a boat capsizes, hypothermia could be their pitfall. The crew members will be tied to the boats and when inclement weather hits, they will don cold weather gear and life preservers equipped with whistles and strobes.

Raytheon, the largest veteran employer in the U.S., has pledged to sponsor the row in support of Community Rowing for veterans. With this partnership, Raytheon is hoping to get some of its veteran employees involved in this fantastic program. One company is sponsoring the row through cookie donations, which will help the crew boost their calorie intake while they burn a whopping 3,500 a day. Funds will also stream in through a pay-per-view style live stream. A starlink system will be set up to record footage of the entire row which will be uploaded every 8 hours. If you would like to help them reach their goal of $50,000 for Community Rowing veterans, please visit the The London Calling” website!

 

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