"I suppose my biggest hero has got to be John Cobb, the British racing driver who achieved one of the greatest land speed records of all time with the Railton-Mobil Special," says Richard.
Cobb drove the three-ton, 2500bhp Railton - powered by two supercharged Napier Lion aero engines - to a new record of 394.1mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1947, a speed that wasn't bettered until 1963, when Craig Breedlove's jet-powered Spirit of America went just 13mph faster.
"What I admired most about Cobb was his professionalism. He arranged things in such a way that it gave the designers enormous free rein when it came to creating a very advanced four-wheel-drive car.
"And, of course, John Cobb was a great driver. He wasn't there on some sort of personal high. He was there to do a job and he did exactly what he was told to do by the engineers. It's how these things should be done."
Noble put his own very obvious gift for getting things done down to the time he worked for ICI, during his 20s and a man called Ian Brook. "I didn't know this guy particularly well, but he was my boss and I now feel very fortunate that he was," says Richard.
"I had an incredible job. I was part of a team of four, led by Ian, that developed a product called Crimplene, a polyester fibre used largely for lady's dresses. Between the four of us we built this industry up from 20 million to 100 million sales in four years.
"I've no idea what's happened to Ian, but he showed that a flat type of company structure really did work -how to achieve results through delegating responsibility rather than exercising authority. I learnt a very great deal from that guy which helped enormously when it came to setting up Thrust and Bloodhound."
An abiding touchstone for Noble has been the work of the late American industrial psychologist Abraham Maslow, best known for the 'hierarchy of needs', which theorised human motivation and self actualisation, principles that have informed Noble's core idea about team building over the past 25 years where the group dynamic prevails and everyone can make a valuable contribution. With over 3500 schools now involved in the Bloodhound project, it seems likely Maslow would have approved.
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