Business Unpacked: Rob Dance’s Journey from One-Man Startup to Leading a Global Tech Company

Rob Dance shares his insights on ROCK's success, embracing change, and cultivating an inventive company culture.

In this instalment of our Business Unpacked series, we sit down with Rob Dance, founder and CEO of ROCK , a leading global tech company. Rob discussed his journey from starting a small company to managing a global force in the tech world, touching on crucial aspects such as adaptability, a client-focused approach, and the role of disruptive technologies in shaping the future of the industry.

The Early Days: Learning from Failure

Rob’s journey began when he started his first business, providing tech support services. While his early entrepreneurial efforts didn’t quite take off, he used the experience as a learning curve. I think failure is an important part of any entrepreneur’s journey,” he said. “It makes you learn, it makes you become more adaptable, and it sets you up for the next venture.”

ROCK’s Evolution: Adapting to the Changing Market

From its humble beginnings, ROCK has evolved into a global company, completing over 10,000 projects since 2008. A key factor in its success has been its adaptability, particularly in the way it addresses the needs of its clients. “Several years ago, projects seemed to change,” Rob explained. “It felt like every project was pushing us out of our comfort zone, and we needed to think of what was causing that problem.”

2012: A Turning Point for ROCK

2012 proved to be a pivotal year for ROCK, as numerous household names such as Ford, NHS and various UK government agencies began to adopt their services. Rob recognised the importance of embracing disruptive technologies to gain a competitive edge. “At the time, we noticed that the top companies in each industry were adopting technologies that their competitors weren’t,” he said. “Doing so enabled them to explore and set trends before they became the norm, and they maintained conviction when others criticised their choices to invest in technology that was considered a long shot.”

The Shift from Business Change to People Change

Rob identified a shift in focus from solving business problems to addressing people’s needs, moving from business change management to people change management. By involving people in the organisation early on in projects and bringing them along on the journey, ROCK has been able to successfully complete a vast number of projects while maintaining a strong focus on the human element.

The Impact of Disruptive Technologies

When asked about the technological advancements he believes will have a profound impact on the industry, Rob was quick to highlight the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). “AI is so massively powerful, and it can have such a huge impact on a company’s efficiency and productivity,” he said. However, he also stressed the importance of a human approach to adopting AI, reassuring the workforce that these tools are intended to benefit them, rather than replace them.

Fostering Innovation: A Unique Company Culture

Rob attributes much of ROCK’s success to its unique company culture , one that fosters innovation and embraces diverse talents. After conducting a whopping 1000 interviews, he has observed a fascinating trend within his team: many employees are gamers. “Being a gamer is an interesting trait that I’ve seen among my team,” Rob shared. “It’s not something we specifically look for, but it often comes up organically. Gamers have a unique way of approaching problem-solving, and they’re accustomed to adapting to new situations quickly. This characteristic translates well into our work environment and fuels creative thinking.”

The Future of ROCK: Balancing Technology and Client Experience

Looking ahead, Rob shared that ROCK’s primary focus in the coming 12 to 18 months will be on enhancing the client experience. While technology plays a vital role in the company’s success, it’s essential not to lose sight of the personal touch that sets ROCK apart from its competitors. “We’re a technology company powered by tech, but we’re also really in tune with what our clients are looking for,” he said.

A Vision for a Different Business

When asked what kind of business he would start if it were entirely outside the tech industry, Rob expressed his interest in revolutionising education. He believes that by adapting education to better suit the diverse needs of children, it’s possible to make a significant impact on the world. “Different children need to consume information in different ways, and it’s about adapting education to be better for everyone,” he concluded.

Rob’s journey with ROCK demonstrates the power of adaptability, a client-focused approach, and embracing disruptive technologies. By fostering a unique company culture that values innovation and diverse talents, ROCK has managed to position itself as a global leader in the tech industry. For those interested in hearing more of Rob’s insights, be sure to listen to the full interview and subscribe to our podcast for more conversations with entrepreneurs and business leaders.

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If you’re an entrepreneur or business leader with an inspiring story to share, get in touch with us to potentially feature on the Business Unpacked series – we’re always eager to showcase remarkable journeys and lessons in the world of business.

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Darie Nani
Darie Nani

Aiming to inform, educate and sometimes amuse.