In 2004, this 20-person, construction dispute resolution business had a growing healthcare advisory practice headed by James Leng, who invited Robert Osborne to advise on an introduction into education, specifically the Building Schools for the Future programme. After James and Robert led and financed an MBO in 2005 with their own equity and HSBC debt, they grew the company to 45 employees and sale in June 2007 to a NYSE quoted global consultancy for $16.2m.

These phases of development secured personal wealth for the original founders through the MBO, and for James, Robert and the company’s staff through the sale of the business. The stages the company had taken formed the basis for the methodology at the heart of ValueStep, which they founded in 2017.

The Value Step

Principal value steps that contributed to the company’s growth and success were based on successfully securing a number of key contracts, including:

  • Procurement advisory contracts on London 2012 Olympics.
  • A rolling advisory contract on the NHS Independent Sector Treatment Centre programme.
  • Advice to a leading consortium on the first phase of Building Schools for the Future

In addition, a key value step was implementing an EMI share option scheme for the company’s staff, which subsequently distributed 20% of the net sale receipts


Following the successful sale, Robert and James joined the acquiring company and as part of its strategic renewal programme integrated other acquisitions into the Public Services practice of 90 staff.

The net financial value gain exceeded £10m.