After study for a degree in Agriculture Sir Robert qualified as Chartered Surveyor and was a Partner in the firm of Smiths Gore where he had responsibility for management of a wide range of rural properties ranging from the Outer Hebrides to Scottish Borders.  He was extensively involved in management of wild salmon fisheries and, amongst other appointments, was a member of the Salmon Advisory Committee and Chairman of the Atlantic Salmon Trust.  In 1995 he was appointed OBE for services to the salmon fishing industry.

Appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Midlothian in 2013 Sir Robert retired from professional work at the end of 2014.  He now farms on Penicuik Estate and is a trustee of Penicuik House Preservation Trust and patron of a number of charities in Midlothian.

Married with three children he enjoys travel, fishing, bee keeping and landscape gardening.