Rob was a career civil servant from 1974 until the end of 2005. He was first assigned to the Northern Ireland Office (1974-81) where he held a number of posts in Belfast and London including being principal private secretary to a Minister with responsibilities for education and environment, and subsequently two NIO Permanent Secretaries. He then moved to the Department for Education, where he worked on higher education policy and then became principal private secretary to the Secretary of State (first Sir Keith Joseph and then Kenneth Baker). Later he had responsibility for Special Educational Needs, then for Grant maintained Schools and School Performance Tables. After 1997 he worked on out of school activities and business links, and on establishing cross-departmental programmes such as "SureStart” and "Connexions".
In 2000 he was appointed the first Director General for the Government Offices of the Regions and worked at Board Level in three Departments in this capacity before becoming Director General for Regional Development in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 2004. He is now Deputy Chair of Trustees for the National Literacy Trust and a Trustee of The Place To Be (therapeutic counselling for primary school children). He also works part time as a consultant and mentor. He is married with two teenaged children and lives in South London.