Published: Nov. 16, 2023 By ,

Rob Gregg Leeds GraduateRob Gregg (Mktg, Entr’09), founder and CEO of Gales—the world’s first brand of smart PPE footwear— is a 2009 graduate of Leeds School of Business with an area of emphasis in marketing and entrepreneurship. His success with Gales follows a series of accomplishments, including a spot as a Forbes Under 30 Fellow as well as being named a GQ Insider for his work in fashion. He attributes much of his success to his pursuit of entrepreneurship studies at Leeds.

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“If I only get one shot at life, there's no one I'd rather bet on than myself.”

Rob Gregg (Mktg, Entr’09)

But these accolades didn’t come easy—and that’s the whole point, he says. “I’ve restarted careers many times; midway through that journey it was easy to feel lost.” As his now older self reflects on the turbulence of young entrepreneurship, he cracks an infectious smile: “These experiences all added tools to my toolbox, that’s what [entrepreneurship] is all about.”

After working in corporate marketing after college, Rob founded his first company— Rob McAllan, an Italian luxury shoe brand. At McAllan, he learned the ins and outs of shoe manufacturing while his brand enjoyed success.

But his life took a turn when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Rob’s close friend almost lost his life to the virus but luckily, a new oxygen mask with better technology was created and ultimately saved his life. Inspired by how innovation had saved his friend, he knew that he wanted to give back to the medical community. That’s when he got involved with SONSIEL (Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Leaders), an organization that strives to empower innovations and solutions in the healthcare field.

He became a full-time healthcare volunteer, dedicating all of his efforts to innovative healthcare solutions. After getting involved via philanthropy and mentorship, he became aware of a pressing issue within the industry: a lack of protective and comfortable shoes for nurses.

A clinical study performed around the same time found that for every seven out of eight shoes, disinfecting alone wasn't enough to stop cross-contamination. With a background in shoe manufacturing, he knew he was the guy for the job. Thus, he closed up shop at Rob McAllan and moved his vision from red carpets to the front lines of the pandemic. It was here that he founded Gales—aptly named after the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

One year later Gales was named by Pepperdine as the most Fundable Business of 2021. The Gales brand also garnered recognition from the Forbes Next 1,000 list, his second time receiving recognition from Forbes.

Presently, he continues to do what he can to support nurses and entrepreneurs around the world, including serving as an Advisory Council Member for the National League for Nursing, a premier organization for nurse educators. He continues to work as a mentor for the two organizations that helped him turn Gales into a reality, SONIEL and Techstars.

Don’t wait for life to start

Rob’s biggest piece of advice to students pursuing entrepreneurship: Seek mentorship. “Lean into the network of the Leeds business school. There is an incredible network of alumni.” He believes that part of his success is due to surrounding himself with people who are driven and more knowledgeable than him. Not only has this made him a well-rounded entrepreneur, but above all, a better person.

He is sure that the most pivotal decision of his time at Leeds was deciding to pursue a certificate of entrepreneurship through the Deming Center. “It was the first time I had the opportunity to go beyond what was offered and enabled me to think critically about how I was building my network.” He maintains that Deming set him up for his future successes while also enabling him to form lifelong connections with several Leeds faculty members who, he says, were relentlessly supportive of him and his peers.

Rob makes a point to emphasize the importance of enjoying the journey rather than obsessing over the destination. “Don't think that you should wait to start life until after you've made it. Enjoy college, have fun, but remember: Moderation is key.”