IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 57



03 Beijing and Beyond | Further and Future Developments
Further and Future
Developments
Fascinating
Fact No. 8
The five most common
backgrounds of employees
working in travel security
are: The military, private
security, police, government
and intelligence services.
Government
Services have
become an
increasingly
important part of
our business.
— Nick Peters
In China we started out by assisting expatriates
exclusively. Since then health care standards have
significantly improved and our service has changed
in response. Expats are less reliant on our
emergency clinic services today but we still help
them understand the language and access local
doctors and what can be a complex culture. We also
continue to adapt our preparation and prevention
agenda for clients with changing circumstances –
for example, we are increasingly helping them
address the growing problem of air pollution.
We are further growing the business by helping the
Chinese when they are abroad – a different service
to looking after visitors to China. We are working
with a number of Chinese companies in Africa
and the Middle East, assisting them to look after
their workforces and carry out medical transports
when needed. We are helping these companies
reach the international standards that employees
increasingly expect.
In recent years we have been further assisting those
government agencies who are sending employees
abroad, for example to Sudan and Iraq. In 2009 we
agreed with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
to look after all their envoys travelling abroad and
we still do so.
We are also ensuring that Chinese is spoken in more
Assistance Centres, including London, Philadelphia
and Johannesburg.
Government Relations
Government relations has always been a particular
feature of our activities in China, spearheaded by
John Williams. When John joined in 1998 as General
Manager he had a background in insurance, had
spent ten years in Beijing and spoke fluent
Mandarin. He was General Manager for a number
of years then specialised in legal, partner and
government relations. As he recalls:
“It was a very complex operating environment;
the legal framework was evolving fast and was
constantly being tested. It was vital to understand
the language and culture to get the nuances.
Unforeseen obstacles could rise up at any time
so we had to stay on our toes.”
As Nick Peters points out: “Winning and maintaining
government contracts is a very different process
from our corporate activities and is becoming an
increasing part of our global business.”
But even government relations has its lighter
side. John spends much of his time building good
relationships with local and national officials and
dignitaries. On one famous occasion, accompanied
by Arnaud, Pascal and Dr Myles Druckman, at a
reception he was persuaded by the karaoke-loving
local mayor to sing a song. It was so well received
he was forced to sing another. Luckily John has a
very good voice and has often gone beyond the call
of duty with a suitable song.
The business has gone through a period of rapid
development and today we have 600 staff in China
and a network of over 800 hospitals and providers.
Each year, we answer more than 250,000 calls and
manage over 25,000 cases, of which over 400 are
medical transports. We also provide general medical
services to more than 40 remote sites within China.
49

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