Is Peter Beck New Zealand’s Very Own Sheldon?
Do you remember your local Sheldon while growing up? That quirky kid who had the brain of a genius and the ability to annoy all generations equally with his or her unhealthy interest in knowledge, obsession with schoolwork or simply the ability to quote countless passages from everything from Complete Works of William Shakespeare to A Brief History of Time? Your local variety of a know-it-all. Smarty-pants. A cross between Hermione Granger on steroids and sober Sherlock Holmes.
Perhaps it was even worse, and you had a Howard … that distant cousin of the Weasley twins who constantly experiments but lacks the confidence of Fred and George?
Apparently, Invercargill in New Zealand had both in one: the kid who wanted to build rockets when he grew up, and the kid who strapped a rocket engine to his bike when he was 18. He is now the CEO of Rocket Lab, the California-based company famous for its vision to make space more accessible via its Electron rocket.
The “It’s Business Time” launch in November represents Rocket Lab’s key first commercial launch and is another step on the way toward launching at a weekly rate with another launch scheduled for December and 16 launches planned for 2019.
There is no doubt that this is a person who is admired, well-respected in the industry and a space force to be reckoned with. Whether he is still a Sheldon or not … It depends. Of course, if you subscribe to “I Hate Big Bang Theory” group, you will disagree. Because Peter Beck is likeable. He is the public face of a satellite launching company that employs 200 people. He is no longer mocked for his vision but is instead congratulated by dignitaries and politicians.
And yet this is exactly what makes him ‘Sheldonesque’ at his core: the passion, following the vision, and enviable work ethics (setting any dislike of the TV series character Sheldon aside). And it is that devotion, commitment and pathos that make him a role-model. The BBT Sheldon would scoff at the fact that Peter Beck never received formal university education. Space industry doesn’t. Peter Beck learnt what he needed to learn on the job. He believes that “with engineering, whether you apply it to a rocket or anything else, it’s all kind of the same”.
No formal training perhaps, but what he has always had (besides Sheldon’s passion for science and drive) is entrepreneurial spirit. He was incredibly curious and imaginative as a child. And he still is. He embodies critical thinking and problem-solving. If not himself, he actively recruits people who do. He believes in collaboration and actively promotes it in his own company. The company, as it is expected of a start-up, lives and breathes agility.
Peter Beck, in short, is a walking example of a scientist-entrepreneur of the 21st century. A textbook of Seven Survival Skills. A live advertisement of skills that bridge the gap between traditional education and the much-needed tools to dream big and succeed in an increasingly competitive global future. A role model for the young, a cool Sheldon of space science and an inspiration for the world of STEAM-related education and skills.