(In­ter­na­tional) SOS to the world

When large or­gan­i­sa­tions send em­ploy­ees over­seas or into re­gional danger zones, they must en­sure the safety of their staff. With that in mind and the lo­gis­ti­cal night­mare that this en­tails, there has been a rise in com­pa­nies work­ing to pre­pare em­ploy­ees f

Business First - - PRO­FILE -

In Ernst & Young’s lat­est Global Mo­bil­ity Ef­fec­tive­ness Sur­vey, 50% of com­pa­nies thought their global mo­bil­ity team was un­der­staffed and only 30% have a sys­tem in place for track­ing business trav­ellers.

Those num­bers are fairly damn­ing when cur­rent global events are taken into con­sid­er­a­tion. Whilst most com­pa­nies have safety mea­sures and even zero harm poli­cies in play, there needs to be greater thought put into the well­be­ing of trav­el­ling em­ploy­ees.

In­ter­na­tional SOS mit­i­gates the risks and as­so­ci­ated costs of in­ter­na­tional travel. The Aus­tralasian arm of the business is led by Ox­ford and Har­vard ed­u­cated Michael Gard­ner, who has been in pro­fes­sional ser­vices since he be­gan his ca­reer in 1989.

“Af­ter try­ing to play cricket for Aus­tralia and play­ing semi-first class cricket be­tween Aus­tralia and Eng­land for years, I re­alised I wasn’t good enough and had too many in­juries so I de­cided to move out of the sport­ing in­dus­try and start work­ing in sales and mar­ket­ing with a com­pany called CPE Aus­tralia.”

CPE was taken over four times in the five years Gard­ner was with the business and pre­sented him with his first ma­jor business les­son: how to prop­erly and very im­prop­erly take over com­pa­nies and in­te­grate them.

This was a handy les­son when he set up his own com­pany, built a global brand with a part­ner over a 10-year pe­riod and then sold it to Com­put­er­share be­tween 1998-2002 where he worked for 15 years.

“I worked and lived in many coun­tries dur­ing this time and I was abroad more or less for 10 years in the UK, Asia and Amer­i­cas. I had a va­ri­ety of very se­nior roles such as group sales and mar­ket­ing Di­rec­tor for the world as we bought and in­te­grated all our var­i­ous com­pa­nies through the buy and build and M&A strate­gies the com­pany un­der­went. Upon re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia I be­came Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor In­vestor Ser­vices and man­aged and di­rected the Aus­tralian in­vestor ser­vices di­vi­sion.”

From Com­put­er­share, Gard­ner spent time at small cap AAV Lim­ited un­der the men­tor­ship of Chair­man Bob Mans­field.

“It’s very dif­fi­cult to run a small cap, but the business did very well for In­vestec Pri­vate Eq­uity, its main share­hold­ers and oth­ers. That came to an end af­ter six years and in­ter­est­ingly I went straight into this role at In­ter­na­tional SOS with the help of Bob Mans­field. It was still a ser­vices role and I was very much en­am­oured by In­ter­na­tional SOS and what it stands for.”

Gard­ner says the in­dus­try in which In­ter­na­tional SOS sits is in travel health and se­cu­rity risk man­age­ment ser­vices. He says it is a business founded by two close friends 30 years ago, a se­nior business leader and a doc­tor, that is some­times very dif­fer­ent than how it is per­ceived.

“Most of our prod­ucts and ser­vices are med­i­cal, as well as be­ing one of the world’s lead­ing concierge providers, how­ever I’m not med­i­cal nor are most of our business lead­ers, but we work very closely with our many med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, clin­i­cians and se­cu­rity part­ners in a true part­ner­ship that is very pow­er­ful. The end prod­uct is that we are do­ing some­thing good for hu­mankind. We are still very com­mer­cial,

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