From Highbury to Hanoi

“All wars are waged against children,” said Eglantyne Jebb, who founded the international charity Save the Children in 1919. Save the Children’s work now helps 10 million children worldwide whose lives are touched by war and poverty. I joined shortly after the Ethiopian famine of 1984 and led Save the Children’s Finance Overseas Group as Programme Manager. I saw first-hand the challenges of working in a war zone in Angola, in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, and in struggling states like Zimbabwe.

“I stayed with the charity for nearly a decade and gathered my experiences with Save the Children and my business career into my book Project Management: All You Need Is Love. It’s not a theory book, but rather tells stories about what worked and what didn’t. When the time came to share the book with readers, a new struggle surfaced. The Literary Consultancy, a London-based organisation that develops writers, helped me redraft and advised that although it was excellent, it might not fit into the conventional publishing industry’s usual book categorisations. They encouraged me to pursue the book however and together we knocked on many doors but kept getting the same response: “Your book doesn’t fit.” As a result it didn’t reach audiences for some time.

“Then I learned about self-publishing with Amazon. Publishing my book with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) programme was as simple a process as it is to buy a book from them. First, I had a design in my head for the cover so I built a high-quality image myself and loaded that to the programme. The image of poor African children choosing to be happy despite the challenges they face is a central message of the book: if they can choose to be happy, why can’t we? Then, to prepare the finished article, I used the Text-to-Speech feature to listen to the book out loud as I followed the text in Word. It took two days of concentrated effort to correct any errors, but was extremely beneficial. Once everything was as it should be I re-loaded the book and then launched it. Simple.

“The response to the book’s release has been incredible. Laurie Mascott, a Director of Oracle wrote: ‘Pete paints pictures of mega-projects he’s run, whether Save the Children or Hilton, and the lessons are always the same. It’s about leadership, passion and commitment.’

“A Senior Director of Microsoft posted his 5-star review on Amazon: ‘There aren't many entertaining books written about Project Management - but this is one of them. The author has managed to package up years of experience - and deliver what he's learnt along the way - in a very accessible way.’

“Many people who have nothing to do with project management also responded to the book positively. The issues the book raises, of combining a business career with spending time working for a charity, have struck a chord. The fact that as a business professional you can make a difference was recognised by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, when she presented me with an award for making 'an unparalleled contribution to the effectiveness of the Fund worldwide'. I’ve remained a life-long supporter of Save the Children, knowing as only an insider can the true extent of the professionalism, commitment and impact of the organisation.

“Amazon’s KDP program is helping me take this message to as wide an audience as possible. The next war might be elsewhere, but wherever it is, it will be another war against the children. I will make a personal donation of £1 for every one of my books that I sell through KDP. Without KDP, that sale and subsequent donation would not be possible.”

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Amazon’s KDP program is helping me take this message to as wide an audience as possible.
Pete Smith