201402 Rob Dobson PhotoRob Dobson (1973-1982)

After my family my main interest is in technology and small tech companies. I’ve been fortunate to have founded, built-up and sold a successful software business in the mobile phone industry. This has put me in a position to pursue those interests by mentoring and investing in a number of tech start-ups. I’m writing this in Edinburgh having moved here in 2011 (after 20 years in London) and many of the businesses I’m involved in are here too – although there are others in Cambridge, London and Dresden.

What is your connection to Bolton School? Were any other members of your family here?
I was at Bolton School from the age of 8 through to the end of sixth-form in 1982. At school I was very interested in electronics from around 11 years of age and naturally gravitated towards computers as they became available. My first was called a Science of Cambridge MK14 and it predated the school’s first TRS-80s by a year or so.

What is your fondest Bolton School memory?
My fondest memory of Bolton School are my friendships with Philip Martin, Ray Travis, Tim Stott and John Rothwell – with all of whom I still exchange Christmas messages – although I haven’t seen a couple of them for over 10 years!

Did any member of teaching staff particularly inspire you while you were at school?
I had some great teachers and they were almost all inspiring in some way. Some that stand out in my memory were Mr DE Shaw (Physics), Mr Irvine (German), Mr Eames (History) and Dr Chambers (Chemistry).

What do you feel your experience at Bolton School has given to you personally?
My school days were mainly enjoyable but I think the message that “hard work was required no matter how talented you might think yourself to be” is probably the one that was most beneficial to me – despite the fact that, at the time, it was the one I liked the least.

What is the best career advice you can give to Bolton School pupils today?
According to a recent report led by Sherry Coutu for the UK government over 1m new science, engineering and technology professionals will be needed in the UK by 2020. This represents a huge opportunity for people leaving school between now and then. Furthermore, it has never been easier to start your own business and I would encourage anyone to consider entrepreneurship – ideally following on from a good graduate education in one of these areas.

What do you think about Bolton School’s 100 Campaign aim to re-establish genuine open access through its bursary fund?
I think genuine open access is a great goal for Bolton School and I’m delighted to support it.