Professor Peck was raised in Skelmersdale in Lancashire and attended Ormskirk Grammar School. He graduated from the University of Bristol with a BA in Philosophy in 1981, the first step in his engagement with further and higher education. His second was a Diploma in Personnel Management at what was then Bristol Polytechnic where he learnt to appreciate the career benefits of vocational education and which led to him being recruited onto the National Health Service graduate management training scheme in 1982. Over the next few years he studied for a Diploma in Health Services Management through a correspondence course (the distance learning of its day) and a p/t Masters in Social Policy and Administration at the University of Nottingham.
It was his first substantive job in the NHS - based at Mapperley Hospital - that brought him to Nottingham, and after a number of senior posts in Newcastle he joined the Centre for Mental Health Services Development in 1992, becoming Director in 1994. The Centre, which focused on implementing models of community care for mental health service users which replaced the Victorian asylums, was based within King's College London. In 1997, the University of Newcastle awarded him his PhD in Power and Decision-Making in the NHS from which he developed his academic interests in public policy and management, in particular the organisational and leadership dimensions of policy implementation in the public services. He has published papers in a range of leading journals including the British Journal of Management, Public Administration, and Social Policy and Administration. He has co-authored three research monographs, the most recent of which – Performing Leadership – was published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2009.
In October 2002, Professor Peck moved to the University of Birmingham as Director of the Health Services Management Centre and subsequently became Head of the School of Public Policy in 2006. He was appointed Head of the College of Social Sciences in January 2008. As well as leading the College, he initiated the University's academic platform in China and oversaw the development of the UK's first University Training School. He also played an active role in the civic life of the City which included being a Non-Executive Director of the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce. He joined Nottingham Trent University on 1 August 2014.
On a personal level, Professor Peck is married with two grown up daughters with whom he shares interests in eventing, music, film and theatre. Sadly, none of his family can understand his passion for Everton Football Club although they are more sympathetic to him playing in and umpiring hockey matches.