My Week: Rachael Robertson of

Former big-company boss Rachael Robertson now runs a website startup that shows men how to buy the right present for women.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

It’s absolutely manic in the ManBuysPresent office at the moment, as we’re only three weeks away from launching the website. The site is actually built already, so my working day is about testing it, talking to product sellers about the concept, and looking at marketing and strategies for how we can take the company forward. 

We’re engaging with sellers who want to be involved, and talking to them about their products. What we’re working on is making sure everything we’ve got is handmade, high quality or unusual. Cashmere from Nepal, high-quality leather, or even sweet strawberries dipped in chocolate. They’re presents that make it look like a man has put much more thought into it.

The biggest challenge has been trying to understand how enormous a job it is on the technical side. I am not from an IT background, but I have a very clear idea of how I wanted the site to work. Every day challenges my inability to compromise on what I want the site to do. 

My husband James sometimes points out that we have a very large corporate mentality. My business partner Kate worked with Hewlett Packard and was very senior, so looking at each other now and deciding who will order toner cartridges is funny. It has been a learning curve, and I’ve never had more fun than I’m having at the moment. I believe that you should always build the business you want to have in three years time, not just the business you need today. We don’t all get on all the time, as there are a lot of strong personalities in the room. But often that’s how you find the best ideas. 

James has a business called Reckless Investments, and we both co-own some restaurants with Marco Pierre White, so between us we’re juggling three businesses. I get up at about 5.30am to walk the dog and drop the kids off, and I bought a house that is literally on the other side of the road from the office, so my walk to work is just half a mile up the drive. We come home by 5.30pm for the kids (two and five years old) to spend time with them. But once they’re in bed at 7.30 the laptop often comes back out to have a look at work emails!

We’ve chosen to live our lives a certain way, and it is difficult if the kids have been up ill in the night and we’re tired, but we’re never bored, and it is a great thing for the kids to see people coming up with ideas and trying to be successful with it. I genuinely thought I would retire when we sold the last business, but I’m 41 now and it turns out I’m not the retiring type. I work in Berkshire in a beautiful place, and I absolutely love it at ManBuysPresent. 

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Leadership lessons from Jürgen Klopp

The Liverpool manager exemplifies ‘the long win’, based not on results but on clarity of...

How to get a grip on stress

Once a zebra escapes the lion's jaws, it goes back to grazing peacefully. There's a...

A leadership thought: Treat your colleagues like customers

One minute briefing: Create a platform where others can see their success, says AVEVA CEO...

The ignominious death of Gordon Gekko

Profit at all costs is a defunct philosophy, and purpose a corporate superpower, argues this...

Gender bias is kept alive by those who think it is dead

Research: Greater representation of women does not automatically lead to equal treatment.

What I learned leading a Syrian bank through a civil war

Louai Al Roumani was CFO of Syria's largest private retail bank when the conflict broke...