IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 25



01 Early Days in Asia | Vietnam
Dr Philippe Barrault
and Mike Hancock,
first consultation room,
Ho Chi Minh City clinic,
Vietnam, 1994.
Fascinating
Fact No. 3
In 2013 we carried out
61,421 employee health
checks and 30,109
immigration checks.
They recruited
like-minded people
and gave them the
opportunity to get
on with it.
— Mike Hancock
Focus on Vietnam
Vietnam is an excellent example of our
entrepreneurial spirit in action, responding to
client needs and finding the right people.
In the early 1990s Philippe Barrault was a young
French doctor. Like Pascal he chose to swap military
service for working for the French government,
in his case the French Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.
He often had to help overseas patients return home
so he was aware of the various assistance companies,
and in particular ours, which “really stood out from
the rest.” Philippe got to know Pascal and over time
they talked about the opportunities in Vietnam.
For many companies it was ‘the place to be’ so it
was decided we should be there too.
Philippe joined us and started working in Ho Chi Minh
City, with a local doctor and a British nurse. They
provided assistance, and evacuations where needed,
for expat employees of the oil and gas clients. The
service was well received but it was not enough.
People were able to speak to Philippe by phone but
they also wanted to see him in person. They regularly
turned up at the office and Philippe was often found
examining them in the waiting room – as a doctor he
was not going to turn anyone away. The expat
employees also wanted the same service for their
families. In short they wanted a clinic. We listened.
The Ho Chi Minh Clinic was set up in 1992, supported
by eight oil and gas companies as founding
members. The Oil Services clinic became very busy
and, as word spread, expats working in other
industries wanted to have the same service. So, in
1993 a bigger clinic was opened with access to all.
Left: Clinic pharmacy,
Hanoi, Vietnam, c. 2000.
Philippe then focused on setting up the Vung Tau
operation to help service the burgeoning offshore oil
rigs business. Much of Philippe’s work at this time
centred round getting patients off the rigs and
transporting them to centres of medical excellence
for treatment.
Personal contact was at the heart of the early
business and was the basis of sales and marketing.
Another key feature of these early days, typified
in Vietnam, was working with national partners;
in some countries this was a legal requirement. In
Vietnam our national partner was the Oil Service
Company of Vietnam, a state owned company with
responsibility for supporting the needs of all foreign
oil workers. As part of this cooperation we set up a
joint venture (JV) with OSC, a British Catering
company; the JV was called OSCAT. Mr Ta Minh
Long was put in charge of the JV; he is now the
Director of International SOS Vietnam.
In those days there was little formal selling and even
less marketing. That gradually changed, especially
when Mike Hancock became General Manager of
Vietnam in 1994 and when Mui Huat Tan came on
board. Mike had previously worked for OSC; with his
experience in Vietnam and his ability to build clinics
he was well placed to help develop the business.
Having put the onshore clinics in place the next step
was providing medical services on-site – be it on a rig
or in a factory. This started out as emergency medical
care and then expanded to providing broader medical
services (now called Medical Services).
Mike Hancock: “We were only in our thirties
but the Founders trusted us to do the right thing.
They recruited like-minded people and gave them
the opportunity to get on with it.”
17

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