Rob O'Brien


By Alix Dostal, Communications Chair, Dalhousie Alumni Association

Current role: Owner/operator, PODS Halifax, a moving and storage business

Grad year: Class of ‘98

Degree: BA and MBA  (Saint Mary’s University, 2003)

Nickname: My rugby buddies called me “the Robe.”

Dalhousie Gazette: You have both worked for a large company and been an entrepreneur. What do you find different about the two experiences and what do you like about being an entrepreneur?

Rob O’Brien: When you are an entrepreneur, you have control over your own destiny and there is a rewarding feeling that goes with that.  Opening PODS has been an amazing experience. It’s a product that people love and thankfully they love to talk about it and tell their friends.  I can’t believe how quickly it has taken off.  And, I get to do everything from drive a forklift to work out financial models, from buying ads for radio or television to replacing a hydraulic hose.  It keeps me learning and keeps me interested.

You don’t get that at a large company where your duties are pretty narrow and you do the same types of tasks everyday.  While large corporations provide a good income, security and a pension, you rarely get freedom to do what you want and you don’t necessarily see the rewards for your hard work.  Its low-risk/low-reward while being an entrepreneur is high-risk/high-reward.

DG: Why did you decide to attend Dalhousie?

RB: When I was a kid I played summer hockey at the Dal arena. I loved going to campus and seeing the buildings with ivy on then. It seemed like such an important place and I wanted to go there. I felt very privileged to get in (and with my marks in high school I was lucky to get in).

DG: Where did you live while you were at Dal?

RO:I lived in many places but the most memorable was a house with some friends at 1683 Edward Street.

DG: Where could you be found most often on campus while you were at Dal?

RO: In the first few years the Green Room, and the political science lounge in the A&A building in later years.

DG: Favourite place to study while at Dal?

RO: Was deep in the library, away from the distractions.

DG: What was your biggest distraction while you were at Dal?

RO: Girls and beer.

DG: What were your favourite cafeteria foods?

RO: I didn’t do much cafeteria dining, but I loved the samosas from a corner store on Coburg Road.

DG: What is your favourite Dal memory?

RO: My actual favourite memories may get me in trouble, so I will say another great memory is seeing all the great bands that came to campus like Great Big Sea, Our Lady Peace, I Mother Earth, Sloan, Blue Rodeo and Spirit of the West.

DG: How did your Dal experience prepare you for your current role?

RO: My Dal experience helped me learn how to think analytically and write clearly. It’s a really important skill for business, especially in large organizations.

DG: What do you see as the best thing about being a Dal alum?

RO: I definitely get a lot of mail from Dal…

DG: Do you have any words of wisdom for current Dal students—something you wish you had known when you were a student?

RO: Don’t worry, it all works out in the end.