This is probably one of the most moving books I have ever read.
David Nott is someone whose work deserves to be documented. He gained an OBE and holds the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award as well as his day job being Professor of Surgery at Imperial College London. Not bad for someone who had to re-take his A levels and overcome a number of very real obstacles to achieve his goal.
In fact, Nott’s story of how he was bullied at school and those challenges he faced would be enough to make someone the polar opposite to the strong and caring character that Nott himself portrays in this book. Testament to him and his family that he has emerged a genuine inspirational figure and someone willing to document in raw honesty his journey. He covers how the film “The Killing Fields” was a real turn around moment when he realised he had to do so much more with his life than just be a surgeon - he felt a calling to take his skills to some of the most challenged parts of the world.
“War Doctor” is a brutally honest narrative on why Nott decided to step outside his day job and volunteer in war torn countries whenever he can. He recounts in graphic detail his experience, the impact on him and what he has learnt.
He has chosen to work in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria to name just a few. And in each case he has seen first hand the very real impact of war and dealt with its fallout. He has helped save countless lives including in some cases the very perpetrators of war themselves - something he has had to reconcile himself to in the hope that these individuals themselves one day turn to a less dark path.
He has provided help in these countries often with inferior equipment and technology and often when battles themselves are raging overhead and where split second decisions make all the difference. He has also had to learn to manage teams that come together under pressure, for short periods, working long hours to save lives and make a difference on the ground with many of these having to work to overcome language and other cultural barriers.
He also documents the challenges of managing the politics that sits behind conflicts in a given country as well as working with the UN and establishing a new foundation with him wife, Ely to share the very knowledge and experience he has gained first hand so others are well enough prepared to handle life or death situations in war torn areas.
I would thoroughly recommend this book.
So, what are the learnings for marketers:
• Have a clear sense of purpose and vision to guide not just you but others too
• Think beyond the day job to the wider, positive impact you can make
• Work hard and fast to remove barriers in how teams work to improve effectiveness
• Be clear on ways of working at pace too, especially for small teams and in projects with tight deadlines
• Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions, especially of those in positions of authority and don’t assume that those people in positions of authority have all the answers either
By Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer at TSB Bank.