IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 15



01 Early Days in Asia | Singapore – A Centre of Excellence
From Day One, Minute One all we
ever did was talk about work. It was
great fun and absolutely thrilling –
a fast pace from the first minute.
— Claire Vaissié
Building a Team
Arnaud began working on selling memberships to
multinationals throughout Asia, whilst Claire put in
place some much needed bookkeeping and
administrative systems.
As well as acting as foreign advisor to SOS Medika,
Pascal regularly visited Singapore to work with Arnaud.
He was known as Dr Pascal in Jakarta, where the
custom is to use only a person’s first name, and more
formally known as Dr Rey-Herme in Singapore; for a
time Lisa Tan thought these were two different people!
Laurent holds a Master’s degree
in Business Administration from
Paris Business School (ESCP) and a
Master’s degree in International
Law from the Sorbonne in Paris.
He Joined AEA in 1989 having
spent ten years in the insurance
business, where he gained
considerable international experience,
including working in the Middle East
and Jakarta. Today as Group
Managing Director, together with
Arnaud, he is responsible for overall
management and control of the
group’s businesses worldwide.
Left: Dr Lyndon Laminack and
Sandy Johnson responding to a
call, Singapore Assistance Centre,
early 1990s.
Lisa is one of a group of exceptionally talented people
who joined early on, were critical to our success and
are still with us today. Other members of that group
include Sandy Johnson, Dr Roger Farrow, Dr Myles
Neri and Laurent Sabourin; we will come across all
of them many times in the course of this history. It was
very much a matter of bringing on board like-minded
people who shared our values and were excited at the
prospect of working in a start-up environment.
Everyone shares similar memories of those days. It was
an adventure, unstructured and highly entrepreneurial.
It was a modest set up so everyone did everything.
Sandy says she still has to stop herself picking up a
phone when she is in an Assistance Centre, whilst Lisa
recalls often screaming at people, “Get going to that
plane now!”
Roger spent much time in Singapore helping to
organise the air evacuations and providing medical
assistance. When Pascal was in Singapore, Roger
swapped locations with him and worked out of
Jakarta. Roger recalls constantly carrying bags of
coins so he could call in from phone boxes, and the
excitement when mobile phones were introduced.
Pascal, ever keen on technology, was an early
adopter of mobiles. His first Ericsson phone was
huge, and the networks very unreliable, but Roger
enjoyed being able to borrow it. Arnaud remembers
that phone well, as it “made Pascal look like a
security guard in a James Bond film.” Roger once
dropped Pascal’s mobile in a swimming pool –
but he would rather not mention that story!
For the teams in both Singapore and Jakarta it was
all about building relationships, not just with potential
clients but with local providers: Including aviation
companies and, of course, doctors in every place
where assistance might be needed. This network
grew and grew, and our Global Accredited Network
is a key feature of the company today.
We were creating a unique business. Most companies
set up in developed markets; right from the start we
operated in a combination of developing and more
developed markets: We went from East to West.
As everyone so often says:
“Our Founders had the vision, took the opportunity
and made the most of it. Equally important, we had
the right offering, thanks to the partnership between
the businessman and the doctor.”
Arnaud Vaissié – “We were a small but compelling
company. Big companies went with us because we
had something of value to offer them: High quality
medical services with local knowledge and
understanding.”
7

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