Peter Starbuck was born in 1936 in Birmingham, England. He initially qualified as a quantity surveyor while completing National Service in the Royal Engineers based in Hameln, Germany (1959-July 1961). The Berlin Wall was built in August 1961. It was during his time in Germany that he first became involved in his voluntary work, which is continuing to be part of his work pattern today.
Returning to civilian life he resumed his career with the international construction contractor Sir Alfred McAlpine and further qualified in building management, and then general management.
In 1963 he moved to Oswestry on the English/Welsh Borders to manage a local building contractor and house builder. In 1966 he commenced with partners his own construction training and house-building business, WSJ, which was the first of his many ongoing entrepreneurial ventures.
WSJ built a wide range of construction projects, including schools, hospitals and housing, which totalled 5,000 homes. They trained managers and apprentices, and as part of the Government’s Manpower Service Commission Scheme 1,000 building trade workers were trained and found employment. In 1987, WSJ was sold to a public property company BHH, which controlled five million square feet of predominantly industrial property.
Peter joined BHH as a Strategy Director, interfacing with City institutions. BHH was sold in 1991 to IM Properties, at which stage Peter left to continue his entrepreneurial activities.
It was at the end of 1974, that he became aware of the work of Peter Drucker when he read Drucker’s Magnus Opus ‘Management: Tasks, Responsibilities and Practices’. He was an immediate convert to Drucker’s ideas to which he could relate practically. Not only did he find Drucker’s ideas applicable to business but also to the varied public and charitable organisations that he was involved with in education, health, social housing, training and the water industry.
What he discovered in all organisations — public, private and the voluntary sector - was that if they applied Drucker’s ideas they succeed while in contrast if they did not, then at least they struggled, or at worst failed. What he promised himself was that if he ever found the time he would study Drucker’s books and identify the essential messages for young managers who never had the time to make the discoveries themselves — the object being that they would not repeat the mistakes of the past.
In 1992 his work pattern changed from production to investment organisations, enabling him to rearrange his work-load to devote half of his time to studying the works of Drucker and other related thinkers. Not anticipated was the result of his study being formalised in a Doctorate on the Genesis of Drucker’s ideas from The Open University Business School.
The consequence is that he is now accepted as an expert on the works of Drucker. In fact, he has been described by Derek Pugh, Emeritus Professor of International Management at the Open University Business School, as “the leading British writer on the subject”. From his private “think tank” Peter lectures and writes extensively on management-related issues.
Peter is a Visiting Research Fellow to the Open University Business School, and a Researcher and Contributor on Management to the British Library. He holds fellowships with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the Chartered Institute of Building and the Chartered Management Institute and his Doctorate from The Open University Business School.
In 2012 he was appointed Chairman of the newly-formed Drucker Society London, which links to the Drucker Society Europe in Vienna and to the Drucker Institute in Claremont, California, which provides worldwide links.
In February 2014 he was invited by Jeewan Ramlugun to join the team at PMN Global, the international lecture group (http://www.pmnglobal.ch), as its management expert. PMN Global’s objective is to develop management in the Third World, with a particular emphasis on Africa.
The following month, Peter was appointed as Visiting Professor to the University of Chester, to enable his Drucker research to be incorporated into the syllabi for the emerging University Centre Shrewsbury. He has subsequently been appointed Founding Visiting Professor at the Shrewsbury Centre, which is now actively developing. Part of the programme is that his Drucker-related research library will be dedicated and housed within the university. This will form an important element of the new Centre for Sustainable Business and Community Development, with its focus on innovation, enterprise, creative thinking, and leadership.
At the City Hall in Vienna in November 2015, Peter was awarded the Certificate of Honorary Membership to the Drucker Society Europe. He thus became only the third recipient, the others being renowned British management writer Charles Handy, and Joe Maciariello, who worked with Drucker in Claremont, California, for 26 years.
Other positions Peter has held, some of which are still ongoing, includ
- Adviser to 10 Downing Street on Affordable Homes Initiatives.
- Director of Wrekin Housing Trust, which involved the largest transfer in Britain at the time of housing stock (13,000 homes) to a Housing Trust.
- Chairman of North Shropshire College.
- Non-Executive Director of Salop Area Health Authority for six years.
- Member of the Consumer Committee of the Severn Trent Water Board.
- Chairman of the Commissioner of Taxes.
- Member of the Shropshire Valuation Panel.
Peter is a one-time sports diver, having ventured to the Great Barrier Reef, the Red Sea, Mauritius and the Mediterranean, where he dived with Alex McKee – the man who discovered the Mary Rose. On a more novel note, Peter also dived under the Welsh Bridge in Shrewsbury, over which Charles Darwin used to walk to school!
Peter and his wife Heather have an extensive range of interests, including exploratory travel, which add to their experience of The Natural World.
When people is ask if he is related to ‘Starbucks Coffee’ he informs them that the only association is that the coffee chain adapted the name from one of his ancestors, the Quaker Edward Starbuck of Viking descent who was born in Derbyshire, England in 1604 and became one of the founding settlers of Nantucket, Cape Cod, USA in 1659 and died there in 1690. He was also one of the founders of their whaling industry.
Peter’s link back to Edward Starbuck was confirmed by DNA testing carried out at Leicester University by Dr Turi King, the person who performed similar tests to confirm the identity of Richard III, whose body was found under a car park in Leicester in 2013.