Speaking at RBS’s Macro Conference, Noble said: “Consumer attitude is all important now. It is consumers who drive business change, whereas in the old days it was the other way round. It’s a very competitive world now and companies must accept and be prepared for change, not be frightened of it.
“Innovation is hard in a company the size of RBS, especially if people have not done it before. Real innovation is difficult and sophisticated and takes years and years of trial and error. Then one day, someone comes in, looks at the data, and says 'this can be done'."
The 67 year-old high risk venture developer held the land speed record for 14 years after his 633 mph Thrust 2 drive in the Nevada desert in 1983.
Noble then led the successful Thrust SSC land speed world record project in 1997, when that vehicle, driven by RAF fighter pilot Andy Green, became the first to smash the sound barrier, reaching 763 mph.
Presenting to around 300 RBS clients, Noble showcased his next world record project, the Bloodhound SSC, which he intends to become the first vehicle to break 1,000 mph (or Mach 1.4) in the South African desert.
Having long ago swapped the driver’s seat for the project director’s role, Richard is sharing his passion for speed and design with young people. He is giving them unique access to the Bloodhound project through an online schools’ learning programme and invitations to various live testing events. More than 5,300 schools have signed up so far.
The project has no capital but its costs of £400,000 a month are met through a ‘flat’ organisation with support from the public and 197 companies. It is a system "only possible in the internet age”, according to Richard.
He said: “We could not have done things this way before the internet. Our fixed costs are huge and time is critical. Synchronous email communication, for example, between our vehicle design engineers, is vital to keep us moving fast. People are encouraged to find out its support potential within the project. They are hugely motivated and that goes straight to the bottom line.”
Richard thanked RBS for its continued support to the project. In keeping with the collaborative approach to Bloodhound, the names of all conference participants will also be etched on the vehicle’s tail fins for next year’s world record attempt.