About the Author


Rob's career began when his father decided to resign his partnership in the family quantity surveying firm in order to fulfil a lifelong ambition and set up a business selling models and hobbies supplies. Rob spent six years with his father, learning how to establish a small business and make it a success. The company prospered, twice relocated to larger premises and became well known for its legendary service. 

Following some time out back-packing abroad Rob joined a leading consumer goods company with an outstanding reputation for training as a salesman, before being promoted through various sales roles and then on to lead the divisional sales training function at head office. A move to another highly regarded consumer goods business followed, where Rob rapidly established a strong reputation for sales and account management, progressing through the UK organisation in a series of increasingly senior roles.

Keen to get into a fast paced service based business Rob subsequently joined an ambitious regional dealer of office products and set about introducing a strong sales and service culture. Early success was followed by a promotion to Sales Director at the time the business was acquired by a leading multinational player in office products. Sales subsequently more than doubled in four years. Rob was then appointed Managing Director and took the business into profits whilst continuing the stellar sales growth. During this time Rob developed a number of initiatives to improve employee engagement and productivity. Success in the 'Sunday Times Top 100' places to work followed, as did promotion to the role of European Managing Director and a relocation to Brussels.

Rob was subsequently attracted to another multi-national office products reseller who was keen to build on its success in direct mail with expansion into a new sales channel. With a remit to plan, launch and roll out a pan-European business to rival the best in the market Rob set about turning the dream into reality. Following a year of intense planning and preparation the business was launched in the UK and subsequently rolled out across Europe. Sales hit a run rate of €130m in year three. Promotion followed and Rob now found himself responsible for European operations for the combined direct mail, online, and contract office supplies businesses.


A change in leadership at the parent company brought a shift in thinking and Rob subsequently returned to the UK to take up a role as CEO of what at the time was Europe's largest wholesale distributor of office products with operations in eight countries. In this role Rob was able to lead the company to both sales and significant profits growth, despite the unfavourable market conditions of the time. 

An unexpected opportunity to become European President of the world's leading office products reseller then presented itself in 2009 and Rob spent the last years of his executive career leading some 10,000 people across Europe in the integration of a string of 34 separate businesses across three very different channels. He retired from full time executive work at the end of 2012. 


Rob now helps leaders and managers to get the best results from their organisations and people. He has spent many years understanding, digesting and successfully applying the simple yet incontrovertible principles that underpin great leadership and management in the workplace. Rob rejects the idea of the 'silver bullet' and is a passionate believer in the consistent application of sound and established management and leadership practices that are neither hard to learn or apply. The problem is that most managers and leaders are too busy 'running the shop' and need help, support and guidance in order to develop and apply these critical skills and processes. The difference it can make to results is truly remarkable!

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What I do:





What people say...

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"My firm has used Rob on multiple occasions. He has a terrific grasp of the fundamental skills of leadership and management and is able to convey and embed these in a stimulating and highly practical way that gets results. He is also a great motivational speaker and knows how to engage an audience with a combination of real life stories and pragmatic management skills that are easy to understand and apply. Having engaged people in the past over my 28 years in Business, NO ONE has yet come up to his standard and ability, he just gets what we need as a business. We have had no hesitation in introducing him to others.”

Michael Morgan, Managing Director, Morgan and Morgan Ltd.

"My school has used Rob’s services for some time now to help our senior team build upon our leadership and management skill base and embed best practice in a number of areas. Rob has a comprehensive knowledge of his subject and the ability to impart essential knowledge and skill in an engaging and effective way. He has unrelenting standards, challenging assumption sympathetically but without compromise and his approach is thorough, pragmatic and enjoyable.”

Headmaster, Leading Independent School

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"As the CEO of a significant business I engaged Rob to help with developing the senior leadership team and preparing them for significant upcoming strategic challenges. Rob's coaching style was inclusive, pragmatic and realistic which helped the team appreciate how they could quite easily get much more from their people. His approach is based on the consistent application of sound and proven leadership skills; which he is able to articulate in inspirational ways that really change performance. Thoroughly recommended!"

Simon Moate, CEO & Company Chairman

"My company has used Rob to help with both a strategy session with our senior team and to address our annual Conference. The theme of the Conference was change management. Rob was the keynote speaker and covered change and how to manage change within your business. On both occasions Rob has added considerable value. His thorough but pragmatic approach in leading the work sessions has served us well. He clearly understands effective leadership and is able to speak on the subject in an informative and engaging way that inspires action. Highly recommended!"

Tim Beaumont, Managing Director, NEMO Group

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"Having used Rob and his organisation to help us develop our people strategy in the UK and European markets I can attest to his strong experience and skill in leadership and management development. His ability to clarify, simplify and communicate the skills required have been invaluable to our team. So much so that we asked him to join us as an advisor for BigAtBusiness."

Arun Krishnankutty, Investor

I have known Rob since 1998 and have tracked his career closely ever since. Rob is the consummate professional, a capable leader within complex organisations, a strategic thinker and an overall good bloke! Rob's broad experience managing large teams at several of the key players in the European office products industry, and his successes within those companies, have earned him widespread respect within the OP community. He is also a very capable public speaker who has delivered several thought-provoking and inspirational presentations to the senior executive audiences at my company's conferences.

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Steve Hilleard, CEO at OPI

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During my career I have had the opportunity to benefit from Rob’s energised and inspirational leadership style. Leading in today’s complex commercial environment requires a strong understanding of all key stakeholders, backed up with a forensic approach to financial management.  This is where Rob excels, resulting in informed and effective decision making, executed with a sense of urgency. Rob has an engaging and sincere approach, with a unique ability to hold people to account whilst remaining motivational. Rob has consistently proven his ability to deliver structured and disciplined organisational designs within complex Global and European business entities. An obsession with high levels of customer service, industry leading growth and shareholder value has persistently resulted in stand out performances.    

A truly visionary executive leader, who embraces change, whilst empowering his teams to get the job done in a collaborative and informed manner.


Peter Birks, Business President EMEA, AVNET

"I had the pleasure to work with Rob as a Vice President and member of his executive board at Staples Europe. As a leader he gave me space to do my job well but was always inquisitive, supportive and encouraging. He is an extremely capable leader and manager with a strong skill set, broad experience and great communication ability. He combines this with a natural coaching style which I found most beneficial.”

Ronny Van Rossem, Managing Director, Adveo Benelux

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Rob is a consummate professional: clear, incisive, organised and calm. A natural communicator he engages and inspires his audience with the assurance of a leader. An effective influencer he is also curious, fact based and open to the influence of others. With an egalitarian approach he is happy to lead by example and wears his natural authority and gravitas lightly.

Rich Carvell, Co-Founder, Kapeesh Marketing Science

"I worked with Rob for several years as a Vice President and member of his executive team in a large and complex pan-European organization, driving the integration of different business channels. Rob is a highly capable leader, well able to manage the different demands of strategy and execution, with a pragmatic approach to getting results. He proved himself as a charismatic and natural communicator, securing the commitment and motivation of a large and diverse workforce. Highly recommended!”

Peter van der Vlis, Lastman Consulting, the Netherlands

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“My experience of working with Rob goes back a long way, when Rob promoted me from being a salesman to a Sales Training Officer. This was the first of many increasingly senior roles that Rob coached me into. Rob has a thorough understanding of management skills and knows how to apply them in the workplace in order to get great results. He is a passionate leader who inspires, motivates and brings out the best in people. As his career has advanced he has taken people with him, many of whom have ended up in significant roles. He helps people to be the best that they can be.”

Dave Walmsley, Managing Director, Palletways UK

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What comes up to my mind when remembering Rob as my manager is first of all, that he always made me bigger, greater - never smaller. Sounds simple, but I always felt inspired when working with and for Rob. I learned so much and I improved. He built vision by leading as an example and each and every decision he made, he explained well. I remember Rob as an very down to earth manager who at the same time managed daily operations and strategic development. Rob is a great manager in start-up environments as well as during times of integration and consolidation. He is a great business leader with exceptional strategic and operational management skills and he can fill several positions: CEO, COO or board functions. I enjoyed working with him and would always work for him again.

Reiner Eckhardt, Vice President & Managing Director, Kent Europe Group

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Doug Ramsdale

Non-executive Chairman at Juvo Products, USA

"By the time I was able to attract Rob to Office Depot he had already impressed me with the way he built Office International in the UK into the fastest growing and most admired contract stationer in the country. It was this work that laid the foundation for Rob to take on a Europe-wide role at Lyreco, presiding over the biggest international expansion of sales and profits in that Company's history. Rob joined Office Depot with a remit to build from scratch a contract stationery division that would equal the best in Europe and make maximum use of the existing infrastructure, talent, and relationships, including the key ones with global suppliers. Given the high standards of the competition and the complexity of the European market, Rob's approach laid the basis for remarkable success. Rob brought a combination of big picture thinking with an "attention-to-detail" business style and a great way with people at all levels. No surprise that he has become one of the leading and most respected figures in the industry."

"I worked more than 3 years with Rob when he was CEO of Spicers and I was managing Spicers French Business. I personally enjoyed working with Rob and I appreciated his leadership as well as his high skill for communication and sense of customer. He was able to build a strong management team across Europe, to get the confidence and a strong support from the mother company. He also revisited our go-to-market, leading the company back to sales development and significant improvement of our profit, in a particularly tough economic period.

Jean-Yves Sebaoun, CEO & Managing Director, Adveo France

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“I have had the pleasure to know Rob for a decade as a colleague and a friend.  We worked together in a complex situation requiring leadership to navigate challenging business conditions. His commitment to people and training never wavered in the face of these pressures. Rob’s deep rooted knowledge combined with his compassionate leadership style and pragmatic approaches are a valuable set of experiences that all can learn from. Rob is especially dedicated to help others to be at their best via knowledge, practice, and coaching that engages people and delvers results.  His passion for organizational development is superior. Rob fundamentally knows how to get people to perform their best and to prepare them for expanding responsibilities.”

Kevin Milliken, CEO, 4D Transformations, USA

I did get to know Rob Vale after the company where I worked (Guilbert) was acquired by Office Depot. Shortly after the acquisition, I was appointed in the position of Managing Director Benelux. Rob has greatly helped me in this time with setting up and organizing the Benelux business and with the Guilbert - Office Depot integration processes. I was very impressed by his leadership abilities, his vision and strategic insight. He is also a great presenter. Rob is someone who believes in people, he gives room for their personal development and is very inspiring. He can also be very critical, but will never forget the positive side. He is good in analyzing the business and the figures, in taking conclusions and setting (strategic) directions. For me he was a great example, someone I have learned a lot of. It was an great opportunity and a big pleasure to work with him.

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Wim de Goei, Managing Director, Presikhaaf School Furniture (Royal Ahrend), the Netherlands

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"Rob is an extremely talented individual with a particular flair for communication. He took over Lyreco UK after an intense period of restructuring and successfully steered the company to impressive organic sales growth founded on the development of people as individuals and teams. His work ethic combined with a charismatic persona and a steely determination to get things done made it a pleasure to work for Rob.
I would recommend Rob highly."

Chris Harrison, Executive Vice President, Fresenius Kabi

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"Rob is an extremely commercial CEO with a gift for communication. He led Spicers at a difficult time for the business and helped strongly develop sales in the UK Division by leading a review of product strategy which sucessfully changed the approach to selling electronic office supplies. A real European in his outlook with an excellent sense of humour, I really enjoyed my time working with Rob."

Robert Baldrey, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Staples Solutions

Rob was a great CEO at Spicers, able to pull together the disparate needs of the businesses across Europe in a way that made everyone feel part of the team. Under his leadership we were able to develop strategies which allowed the business to grow in sales and profit in spite of the recession. He was also able to manage the complex relationship with the parent company to ensure resources were made available to implement our plans and deliver the promise. A great guy to work with!

Ian Doherty, CEO at Hexstone Ltd.

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Robert has had a major role in the successful development of Lyreco European business. Clear minded but resolute he set clear objectives for the Company I headed in Italy and taught me the most effective techniques to train and control a huge salesforce. No doubt he has been one of the best manager I met in my career

Francesco Villa, Vice General Manager, Gruppo Buffetti SpA, Italy

I worked with Rob for 6 years during which time he successfully planned, launched, led and rolled out a contract office supplies business across Europe. In addition to this, he was a key contributor to the European management team that I headed up, and could always be relied upon for a major contribution to strategic planning and first class execution. He is a great and inspirational leader and I greatly enjoyed working with him.

Rolf van Kaldekerken, Former European President, Office Depot

Robert has had a major role in the successful development of Lyreco European business. Clear minded but resolute he set clear objectives for the Company I headed in Italy and taught me the most effective techniques to train and control a huge salesforce. No doubt he has been one of the best manager I met in my career

Francesco Villa, Vice General Manager, Gruppo Buffetti SpA, Italy

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