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Our Team

Robert Oates

What made you start Arbtech?

A combination of (over)confidence and ambition, and a real dislike of all the jobs I’d had up to that point. I thought, in the second year of uni, ‘I can do this’. So, I did it. 18 years later, here we are.

What do you love most about the company?

The people and our culture. Most of the guys and girls that have worked here for any length of time become real friends outside of work. We hang out, share the same interests, and the strength of those social bonds means everyone is always looking out for you in a genuinely altruistic way.

What do you do when you are not at Arbtech?

I fight competitively around the world. I try to fight at least a handful of times each year in Europe and the US. I also coach Brazilian jiujitsu[*] on weekdays and on top of my own training, along with strength and conditioning work, saunas, ice baths and cardio take up a huge chunk of my free time. I have a daughter, Catarina, who is half-Brazilian and speaks Portuguese, so as well as spending time with her, I’m learning the language; unfortunately not at the same rate! When I’m not doing that I try to keep my dying-a-death ‘fluency’ in Spanish topped up.

[*] https://youtu.be/1QqsFcB6Y3w (watch that from about 2:30 onwards to get a flavour – so far I’ve managed to pursued 12 Arbtechers to take it up – could you be next?)

I read a lot of non-fiction. I have a property development company with several of my own projects on the go. Finally, I own equity in several other businesses, so I spend some of my time with the day-to-day managers of those. Oh wait, and I’m at the back end of my 3rd master’s degree (this one is in real estate).

If that doesn’t take up allllll of my free time, I love to travel and eat out, and am usually up for anything fun, like rock climbing, sky diving, track days, mountain biking, walks, snowboarding, all forms of fight sports… in fact, just about anything that doesn’t involve phones, computer games or TV.

What is your biggest tip to achieve the most in life?

Develop the discipline to tell the truth; to others, but especially to yourself. Once you master this skill, it is only a matter of time before you become undeniable at whatever your inner voice desires. If you’ve got that down – health is wealth.

What is the best social you’ve been on at Arbtech?

There are WAY too many to list, but if I had to pick one, Austria (Jan 2023) – the 3rd of our overseas, all-expenses-paid socials. We skied, snowboarded, did Brazilian jiujitsu, yoga and partied hard. It was an absolute vibe. How I’m going to top that, I don’t know. Las Vegas, perhaps?

Where do you want to travel to next?

Well, I’ve seen a lot of Europe, South and North America, and some of Africa… In 2023, between fighting and holidaying, I’ve been away 13 times. In 2024 and beyond I intend to continue to work my way around the most interesting and culturally diverse places on Earth until, with luck, old age.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Anyone that knows me well knows that I think business plans and missions and visions are absolute garbage. If you focus on the micro-processes, the goals take care of themselves. That’s the reason I give a massive amount of autonomy to a handful of managers and keep the structure of Arbtech as flat as I can, so we can all test and adjust across every domain in the business, all of the time.

I am ruthlessly focused on being better at what we do every single minute of the day I am at work, and so is everyone else. Our boat moves faster than others’ precisely because our managers aren’t tyrannical megalomaniacs that drown in minutiae decisions all day. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting bigger/faster/stronger without any reference to a ‘plan’.

So, in August 2028 (when I will be 45), I see myself – or more accurately, I’m aiming at – being fluent in Portuguese, a good role model to Catarina, and still getting up every morning wanting to win the day, the week, and the year. Ideally, I’d like to be breaking the back of another masters and have climbed another of the seven summits.

What is a goal you have for the future, in or out of work?

In Brazilian jiujitsu, I’ve been a European champion but, despite getting to the quarter finals in 2017, 2019, and 2023, I haven’t yet won a world title. That’s definitely something I am looking to crack.

At work, in the last 12 months I have turned down several very generous offers for the business and consequently, I need to make sure I keep pushing as hard as I can to make this a great place to work and a national brand that clients love to deal with, so that I don’t end up regretting that decision!

Beyond this, I find as I get older, I’m less interested in goals and more interested in just trying to incrementally become the best version of my authentic self, each new day.

What I mean by that is to keep making good quality decisions with integrity and heart. If I keep doing that, I’ll probably be happy regardless of what happens.

Rob started Arbtech in January, 2006. He’s been the boss for 18 years.

What Makes Arbtech Different?

Today, I am CEO of (by any objective measure) the foremost independently-owned ecological consultancy in the UK: Arbtech. In 2023, around 7,000 people just like you trusted Arbtech to take complete ownership of their tree, ecology and protected species issues at their site. The number of planning refusals? A handful, mostly related to the type of project we tried to support. The number of EPS licences we applied for that were refused? We’ve had one in the last decade.

Why is this? It’s because we are one of the very few consultancies to have a strongly differentiated offering: Unlike most of our ‘we’ll do anything as long as you’re paying us’ competitors, we only undertake planning-related tree and ecology surveys; assuring you of our commitment to providing an unmatched depth of planning-related expertise, faster, and at the lowest possible cost. You can find out more about us here.

Job Title

CEO

Professional Experience

Management, Psychology, Biology

Specialist Areas

  • Exemplary customer service
  • Building teams with a strong sense of personal responsibility
  • Black Belt in getting things done

Qualifications

  • Diploma, Forestry, Myerscough College
  • Certified, Tree Surveys for Mortgage and Insurance, Myerscough College
  • FDSc, Arboriculture, University of Central Lancashire
  • Professional Member (MArbA), Arboricultural Association
  • Professional Member (MRSB), Royal Society of Biology
  • Chartered Biologist (CBiol), Royal Society of Biology
  • MBA, Durham Business School, University of Durham
  • Leadership Programme, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
  • MSc Psychology, University of Liverpool

Hobbies

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and various fight sports, powerlifting, olympic weightlifting, running, hiking, snowboarding, mountain biking, motorbikes, languages (Spanish, Portuguese), and reading; mostly about biology, economics and psychology

More Arbtechers

Meet the other members of our leading ecology and arboriculture team.

Julia Clague-Robinson

Julia Clague-Robinson

Business Manager
Scott Warren

Scott Warren

Finance Manager
Andy Ward

Andy Ward

Marketing Manager
Craig Williams

Craig Williams

Principal Ecologist & BNG Lead
Natalie Evans

Natalie Evans

Principal Ecologist & Bat Licence Lead
Katy Perry

Katy Perry

Senior Ecologist
Jonathan Stuttard

Jonathan Stuttard

Principal Ecologist & Herpetofauna Lead
Nicole Gullan

Nicole Gullan

Senior Ecologist
Mel Reid

Mel Reid

Senior Ecologist
Josephine McCarthy

Josephine McCarthy

Consultant Ecologist
Fay Brotherhood

Fay Brotherhood

Consultant Ecologist
Elen Griffin

Elen Griffin

Consultant Ecologist
Merry Anderson

Merry Anderson

Consultant Ecologist
Beth Ellison-Perrett

Beth Ellison-Perrett

Consultant Ecologist
James Fielding

James Fielding

Consultant Ecologist
George Collier-Smith

George Collier-Smith

Consultant Ecologist
Matthew Middle

Matthew Middle

Principal Arboriculturist & BS5837 Lead
Jon Hartley

Jon Hartley

Principal Arboriculturist & Employee Development Lead
Aran Nearn

Aran Nearn

Principal Arboriculturist
Alan Thompson

Alan Thompson

Senior Arboriculturist
Matt Edwards

Matt Edwards

Senior Arboriculturist
Emily Kempson

Emily Kempson

Senior Arboriculturist
Jim Green

Jim Green

Consultant Arboriculturist
Charlie Moore

Charlie Moore

Consultant Arboriculturist
Chris Wren

Chris Wren

Consultant Arboriculturist
Thomas Parkinson

Thomas Parkinson

CAD Technician
Clare Swinburn

Clare Swinburn

Office Manager
Sally Parry

Sally Parry

Administrator
Emma Gray

Emma Gray

Administrator
Donna Swinburn

Donna Swinburn

Administrator
Charlotte Calvert

Charlotte Calvert

Administrator
Ann Balshaw

Ann Balshaw

Administrator
Chris Jarvis

Chris Jarvis

Finance Administrator
Rob Lambert

Rob Lambert

Editor
Gill Broad

Gill Broad

Editor
Morgan Bold

Morgan Bold

Social Media Executive
Harriet Paul

Harriet Paul

Finance Administrator
Hannah Bramley

Hannah Bramley

PA to Robert Oates
Alan Smith

Alan Smith

Consultant Arboriculturist
Michelle Huang

Michelle Huang

Consultant Ecologist
Josie Cooper

Josie Cooper

Consultant Ecologist
Ben Newbery

Ben Newbery

Consultant Ecologist
Annabel Sharpe

Annabel Sharpe

Consultant Ecologist
Dean Meadows

Dean Meadows

Principal Arboriculturist & Tree Risk Lead
Sally Hall

Sally Hall

Consultant Ecologist
Jessica Sibley

Jessica Sibley

Consultant Ecologist
Rhiannon Jensen-O’Brien

Rhiannon Jensen-O’Brien

Consultant Ecologist
Romany Poole

Romany Poole

Graduate Ecologist
Tom Ramm

Tom Ramm

Arboricultural Surveyor
Marlies Brenninkmeyer

Marlies Brenninkmeyer

Administrator
Abby Smith

Abby Smith

Administrator
Shaun Rowe

Shaun Rowe

Graduate Arboriculturist
Charlie Drapala

Charlie Drapala

Graduate Ecologist
Phil Gower

Phil Gower

Consultant Arboriculturist
Rob Dennis

Rob Dennis

Arboricultural Surveyor
Olga Hermann

Olga Hermann

Ecological Surveyor
Jamie-Lee Anderson

Jamie-Lee Anderson

Consultant Ecologist
Chris Poplett

Chris Poplett

Arboricultural Surveyor
Anthony Jones

Anthony Jones

Consultant Arboriculturist
Fearghus Gage

Fearghus Gage

Senior Arboriculturist
Chantae Wells

Chantae Wells

Consultant Ecologist
Alexie Jenkins

Alexie Jenkins

Graduate Ecologist
Hannah Upshall

Hannah Upshall

Graduate Ecologist
Emma Platts

Emma Platts

Graduate Ecologist
Millie Holland

Millie Holland

Graduate Ecologist
Nick Smith

Nick Smith

Graduate Ecologist
Georgia Knight

Georgia Knight

Graduate Ecologist
Jeremy Grout

Jeremy Grout

Consultant Ecologist
Maddy Carter

Maddy Carter

Graduate Ecologist
Kayleigh Davies

Kayleigh Davies

Graduate Ecologist
Anna Dolby

Anna Dolby

Graduate Ecologist
Georgina Rennie

Georgina Rennie

Graduate Ecologist
Tom Baron

Tom Baron

Senior Arboriculturist
Harley Stone

Harley Stone

Consultant Ecologist
Leah Cook

Leah Cook

Consultant Ecologist
Jade Lemm

Jade Lemm

Consultant Ecologist
Oliver Bevilacqua

Oliver Bevilacqua

Consultant Ecologist
Robbie MacKenzie

Robbie MacKenzie

Principal Ecologist
Jamie Bolton

Jamie Bolton

Finance Administrator
Annalea Moulton

Annalea Moulton

Administrator
Codie Schofield

Codie Schofield

Administrator

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