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Biography: Richard Noble

Richard Noble


Others say

"An excellent presenter with an Inspiring story."
Yorkshire International Business Convention

Richard Noble succeeded against all the odds when his Thrust Supersonic Car (SSC) went supersonic. A true eccentric, he has boundless amounts of determination that is evident throughout the many years he has been obsessed with speed records. Richard Noble is an entertaining after-dinner speaker and a uniquely inspirational conference speaker recounting his feats in speed. 

Born in Edinburgh in 1946, Richard Noble began his career selling paint for Dulux. He chose not to go to university because he preferred to 'get on with life'. But selling paint wasn't exactly the dynamic life he needed. Suffering from boredom, he set off on an expedition from London to Cape Town in a Land Rover. After further expeditions to India and Afghanistan, he returned to the UK.

At a very young age, Richard Noble was inspired by John Cobb whom he had seen racing his boat Crusader on Loch Ness only weeks before he died during an attempt on the water speed record. Richard set to work to build his own series of jet-propelled cars with the aim of breaking speed records.

Against a background of today's low risk culture, Richard Noble specialises in developing high risk ventures. Obviously not all of them can be successful, but the Thrust2 programme which brought the World Land Speed Record back to Britain in 1983 and the Thrust SSC first ever supersonic land speed record programme are the best known.

Richard Noble's other projects include the ARV Super2 light aircraft, the Atlantic Sprinter Blue Riband contender, Programme Funding, an original television funding company, and the last, Farnborough Aircraft, which is creating the first point to point taxi aircraft.

"Richard is a great speaker. He shows enthusiasm for his subject which was very appropriate for apprentice engineering. His success in the past is very interesting and also speaks well of his future aims. The presentation including the clips and photos, amazed many people and kept their interest. I have received feedback from many people about Richard being an ideal speaker for the event and how much they enjoyed meeting with him. I personally would not hesitate to meet him again and choose him for other events."
Atomic Weapons Establishment AWE

These projects all started very small and being original in concept attract only very limited resource. So they have to obey the rules of small company survival:

  1. Keep it very simple
  2. Build a highly-motivated, small team
  3. Move decisively and quickly
  4. Make up for the financial deficiencies with a very high level of team motivation and productivity

Working in this high risk environment can never been seen as secure or comfortable, for the financial horizon is often just days away and the company depends on its wits to survive. The upside is that Richard Noble's ideal company structure is to try to use flat structures wherever possible, delegating both responsibility and authority - which can result in a team which drives the project fast and across a wide front, activities which would be seriously expensive for traditionally micro-managed companies.

As an example The ThrustSSC team found itself head to head with both well funded American and Formula 1 teams. McLaren were building the Maverick supersonic car and had budgeted £25m. The Spirit of America team were reputed to have a $14m budget. The ThrustSSC team carried out the entire programme on a cash spend of £2.85m - 14% of the McLaren budget.

The projects have always tended to be innovative - and that puts them against the odds and against the system which will always favour the conventional. Whilst support in terms of people and resource tends to be forthcoming, the financial support has always been the most difficult to achieve - whether sponsorship or investment - and often because of the financial community's real doubts about the teams ability to achieve. Oddly it does seem that the higher the perceived risk by the financial people, the greater the chance of the team achieving!

As a conference and after-dinner speaker, Richard Noble illustrates the presentations with unique video and explains the huge problems in trying to persuade the old British establishment to consider and implement change and listen to original thinking - but despite the track record the British centralised funding machinery always seems to disappoint. So if the central funding machinery won't deliver then, thanks to the internet, it becomes possible to spread the risk and fund with a distributed funding system - which were key original features of SSC Programme Ltd. and Farnborough-Aircraft.com Ltd.

But above all, these projects are difficult, and giving up is never an option.

For further information or to book Richard Noble, call us on +44 (0)20 7607 7070 or email info@speakerscorner.co.uk

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