(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
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,