IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 165

08 Developing a Global Infrastructure | A Professional Approach
Our independence sets us apart.
— Nigel Pool
Developing a worldwide infrastructure, including
clinics and equipment, investments in technology
and other systems, as well as many acquisitions, has
inevitably required significant financial resources. As
we have seen, in the early days money was tight and
influenced the rate at which the business developed.
In Nigel Pool’s view, managing cash flow was been
critical to the company’s ability to survive and grow:
Nigel Pool presents at Annual General
Management Meeting, Phoenix, US, 2014.
like to grow and go to market as a sign of success,
our senior management sees going to market purely
as a way of raising money, and there have always
been other ways to do that.
Growth has been financed by reinvesting into the
company and through some external financing. This
has enabled the Founders to keep control of the
company and maintain it in private ownership with
all the freedom that brings.
“People pay a lot of attention to banks and external
financing, and that is important. But what’s really
important was managing the working capital.
Getting money in from customers, and paying
suppliers on time became an absolute discipline.”
Arnaud is more interested in describing the
company’s size in terms of numbers of employees
rather than the turnover figures, but whichever way
you look at it the growth has been impressive.
As the company grew and became more
professional and structured, the finances came
under more control. In 2001, Nigel Pool became the
first CFO in the company and set about further
strengthening the systems. All those entrepreneurial
managers who were used to flexibility and freedom
found that their latest ventures often had budgets
attached to them! But that did not stop money
being found when real opportunities arose.
Investments in essential technology and equipment,
as well as numerous acquisitions continued, even
during the global financial crisis of 2008.
Turnover: $0.5m | Employees: 70
The acquisition of International SOS Assistance
in 1998 had been a massive step. Many smaller
acquisitions followed, particularly since 2008 in
what has been a time of rapid growth. Acquisitions
of course require capital, and from time to the idea
of going public was raised – usually by people
outside the company. Whilst small companies often
Turnover: $250m | Employees: 2,500
Turnover: $1.5bn | Employees: more than 11,000
The growth of company has been close to 15%
per year, mainly through organic growth helped
by acquisitions. As Laurent Sabourin says:
“This puts us in a strong position especially as we
continue to deliver a more sophisticated client
offering. With more companies needing global
support and more governments outsourcing,
the prospects for sustained growth look good.”


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