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