IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 174



International SOS | From East to West
The Right People
and Relationships
It’s not about
making money
but doing the
right thing.
— Arnaud Vaissié
Fascinating
Fact No. 29
The most southern location
where we have employees is
in Auckland, New Zealand.
166
As Arnaud Vaissié says, “It’s easy to borrow money,
but hard to find the right people.” As he built the
business he was keen to hire people with experience;
often from medical, military, security or insurance
backgrounds. As we became more structured we
also welcomed senior people with experience of
major multinationals. All tend to be highly intelligent,
high calibre people delivering a high value service.
Creating the right relationships is important too.
At International SOS there are no silos or divisions;
every function is part of a whole. The successful
trinity between Arnaud, Pascal and Laurent has been
repeated at business unit level. Particularly in the
early days, the three-way combination was General
Manager, Medical Director and a Local Partner – the
latter was essential in bringing that all-important
local knowledge. Again, all three were equal.
This remains the case today. Doctors do not report
to business managers, everyone works with each
other. Doctors tend to make quick decisions which
have to be right; businesses tend to review options
and take a more collegiate approach; so the two do
not usually work well together – except in our
company, where we work very hard at making it
work. Similarly our security experts play an equal
role in decision making, working with and not for
the GMs. It is all about creating a culture based on
respect for the individual and appreciating the
expertise they each bring. It requires a lot of
discipline and mutual respect.
Philippe Arnaud: “Just after I joined I was working
with a medical director on the concept of the
occupational health product. There he was in a
formal suit when he told me he had just come
back from a three day trek in the jungle to rescue
a client’s sick employees. I thought to myself,
“this company is really cool and unique!”
A Common Purpose
Everyone in the company – not just those at the front
line – sees themselves as being in the job of saving
lives. When responding to a crisis, workloads can be
very heavy and the atmosphere intense. This tends
to be highly motivating, creating a sense of common
purpose. People can be very moved by what they
do and, as we saw, the loss of two employees in the
Bali bombing certainly left its mark.
We are not a charity, but a business. Even so, time
and time again we have offered a humanitarian
response rather than worrying about profits –
and that in turn gives us much to be proud of.
The fact that we care comes from the top and
is deeply embedded.
Arnaud Vaissié: “It’s not about making money
but doing the right thing.”
Dr Morrison Bethea (Senior Vice President and
Medical Director, Freeport):
“International SOS has always delivered its services at
the highest level of professional and ethical standards.
Their integrity is beyond reproach. In terms of
competency and honesty they are hard to beat.”
Right: Air ambulance
evacuation, Tianjin,
China, 2014.

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