Oh Captain, my Captain

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

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Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring
– Oh Captain, Walt Whitman

Last week The Moodie Report bade farewell to a wonderful individual, an ever-present, pivotal influence in our success since he joined the company shortly after its creation in 2002.

I’m talking about Bob Wilby, Chief Operating Officer, friend and quirky, eccentric, lovable man. He is known variously as ‘Captain Bob’, reflecting his military background and manner, and (by me at least) ‘Bob backwards’ as I always say he hates having his name spelled the wrong way around…

Every business leader needs foils to his own personality, strengths and weaknesses. Bob and I were foils just as we used to be when we met on the wintry rugby fields of England nearly a quarter of a century ago. We played for an outfit called ‘The Twickenham Bulldogs’ but we called ourselves the Bald Dogs.

I was a fly-half, used to controlling the game, to having my own way, always running at the opposition, haring off (and hair off) in all directions, my teammates having no way of understanding where I was going as I had no idea myself.
Bob was the straight man. In posture (he must have gone to modelling school), in playing style. He tidied up; he was the finisher. He played right wing (like his politics). He was the flying winger, I was the whinging flyer.

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In business, nothing was different. I would come up with scatter-brained notions by the day, usually informing him after they had already been implemented. Some (notably, of course, The Moodie Report) succeeded; others were scattered to the four winds of entrepreneurial madness. While I would leap up and down with excitement at my latest great notion, the real Captain of the ship would quietly consider the impossibility of it all, go and puff on one of his many daily cigarettes, sometimes chuckle, sometimes seethe and then begin sorting out the mess. When he went really silent, I knew I had messed up. I was never quite sure who was boss of who.

Without Bob, The Moodie Report would have been left in the starting gates of start-up zeal. Somehow he would always pick up the pieces, always ensure everything was just so. He was our interface with advertisers, suppliers, service providers and, of course, staff. No-one had a bad word to say about him.

In a moment of semantic improbability I once called him on video ‘the glue in The Moodie Report sandwich’. Please do not try such culinary temptations at home. But you know what I mean.

Bob’s a modest fellow, not one for grand ceremony, so even convincing him to attend his own farewell party was a struggle. But attend he did. There his friends from The Moodie Report down the years gathered to toast him, to present him with some great wines and Armagnac from his ‘Moodie birth year’ of 2002 and a picture we knew he would like (below). Bob cast as Captain. Our Captain. Our one and only Captain Bob.

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  • It was always clear who really steered the ship!
    Best to you Bob and many thanks for all your help along the way.

  • Congratulations Captain Bob

    Congratulations on your retirement, your years of steadying Martin and the business and the huge number of achievements along the way. We never had a lot of contact, but all that we did was memorable and handled with the utmost courtesy and a good dose of humour. Will very much miss you this year in Cannes but will tonight drink a toast to you!

    Cheers Captain Bob

    Best wishes, Martyn

  • Wonderful tribute to a wonderful business partner! May Bob enjoy a well-deserved long and happy retirement!

  • I wish Bob all the best in whatever he is going to do in the future. I know that he will be much missed – I will certainly miss him.

    Good Luck Captain Bob xx

  • Good luck Bob, wherever you are going.
    Always a Gentleman & always genuinely grateful if there was a spare bottle of something for him, after MANY long hours, at the trade shows.
    Cheers,

  • Hold the front page…did somebody else do his head in on expenses?

    Bob, Bob, you are a very patient kind and organised man and hopefully, we’ll still see you from time to time. (I haven’t got any better at those darned expense forms btw, no matter where conscripted) Enjoy a very well deserved time dismissed & “at ease”   Hugest hugs and thankyou, keep in touch, NI is wayy better now to visitors! Jxxxx

  • Having shared a tent with Captain Bob, I can also testify to the amazing organisational capabilities of the man. Precision of a military nature meant all was well whilst he was around.
    Best wishes to the mighty man in any future endeavours!