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Rob Apatoff – DePauw

Executive Director, Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute

Road to Greatness

Rob Apatoff has more than 30 years of experience in executive management, strategy, ecommerce and consumer marketing, having worked in diverse industries that include consumer packaged goods, beverage, healthcare, personal lines insurance, as well as floral and gifting.

After more than eight years leading FTD Companies worldwide, Rob informed the board last fall that he would be stepping down as President and CEO at the beginning of 2017. At FTD, he engineered the 2014 acquisition of Provide Commerce from Liberty Interactive, creating the preeminent global floral and gifting company.  The acquisition doubled company revenue to $1.2B while continuing to grow FTD’s industry-leading profitability. Prior to the acquisition, Rob also led the spin of FTD from parent company United Online, making FTD a separate public company in 2013 (NASDAQ/FTD).  Rob expanded FTD’s international presence, strengthened the grip on FTD trademarks worldwide for the first time in 40 years and continued to grow profitability through expansion into new channels and incorporating better operational leverage and practices.

Throughout his career, he has a consistent history of helping to lead companies through tough, competitive markets including the “beer wars” in the ’80s while at Anheuser-Busch, the “shoe wars “in the ’90s while at Reebok, the “insurance wars” in the early 2000s while CMO at Allstate and the e-commerce floral and gift wars while President and CEO of FTD Companies.  In his roles as head of marketing, and later as President and CEO – he forged a consistent track record of capturing consumer imagination and building product demand through sharp customer insights, product and services innovation and creative, integrated marketing.  Rob has been able to optimize enterprise economics, even in the toughest commoditized businesses.  Most importantly, he has used product innovation and differentiation to swim upstream, increasing unit AOVs when competitors continued to drop prices as a big part of their business strategy.  In each role he has built high-performing teams that have been able to achieve success in very competitive industries.

Prior to FTD, Rob served as President and CEO of Rand McNally & Company, after being recruited by private equity group Leonard Green and Partners and successfully led a turn-around of this troubled commercial asset, including modernizing its product portfolio and expanding the company further into digital, mass merchants, and education. In the mass market, Rand McNally doubled its revenue and received unprecedented visibility and support through Rob’s personal involvement with executive management at the largest mass retailers. Rob led the successful sale of Rand for LG&P prior to his departure.

Before joining Rand McNally, Rob was recruited to be the first Chief Marketing Officer in the Allstate Corporation’s history. At Allstate, he directed the company to pursue a more customer-focused strategic path, greatly expanded their strategic marketing to better compete in what had become an ultra-competitive industry, and created Allstate’s first eCRM platform to view Allstate’s customers across the entire portfolio of insurance and financial services. Prior to Allstate, Rob served as Senior Vice President of Marketing for healthcare leader Aetna, Inc.  Rob was instrumental in the Aetna’s acquisition of US Healthcare which accelerated Aetna’s efforts to build a larger managed care footprint. This acquisition allowed Aetna to better communicate the benefits of proactively managed patient care for healthier outcomes and ultimately lower cost to the patient.

Rob began his career in marketing at Quaker Oats, where he worked on a variety of businesses including Quaker Oats, cereals, and pet foods. He was recruited to Anheuser Busch and was quickly promoted to department head of the company’s National Retail Marketing group.  In this role, Rob spearheaded initiatives across all beer brands and new products including the Bud Bowl, Spuds Mackenzie and the Budweiser 3 on 3 tournament, helping build Anheuser Busch’s market share to record levels during his tenure.  Rob was then recruited to Reebok International where, as VP of Marketing, he directed the marketing launch of Reebok’s entry into men’s performance athletics and the launch of the iconic Reebok. Rob left Reebok to join Roy Disney’s Shamrock Partners to help in their turnaround of LA Gear, where he helped create and introduce one of the other enormous successes in the shoe industry, Kids Lighted Shoes.

Rob has served on several public and private Boards, including FTD Companies, Rand McNally, Inc, and Intercontinental Art.  He has also served on the Board of Trustees of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise –now ENACTUS) and the Board of Visitors for DePauw University, his alma mater.  Rob has also been asked to speak on multiple occasions to the graduate schools at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.


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