Interview with Cédric Fraissinet, General Manager - Switzerland & Italy at International SOS
What is your role at International SOS and how must I imagine your daily tasks?
I’m General Manager at International SOS in charge our Swiss and Italian businesses. The role of International SOS in Switzerland is to help employers in protecting their workforce from health and security risks. It consists of advising on occupational health and security strategies, facilitating the implementation of risk mitigation measures such as situational monitoring, threat tracking, staff training and provision of information to employees or organization’s management. Medical and security assistance to travelers and assignees is as well a significant part of our activity. We do support a large variety of organizations : most of the NGOs and IGOs HQed in Switzerland, quite a few universities and private schools, the majority of multinational corporations based in our country but as well an even larger number of Small & Medium size companies.
How has International SOS been helping its customers in this complicated year?
The COVID-19 pandemic is driving a fundamental change in the health & security support we provided to our clients. Though the number of travels has obviously dropped, most of our clients still need some of their employees to go abroad. Important to mention that International Business Travel is still possible despite COVID-19 and the obvious complexity of the organisation of such journey. Our role consists of enabling these movements and empowering our client staff to travel safely. We have experienced a dramatic increase in demand for support & information from travellers who tend to call us now 5 times more than last year.We have seen as well a significant increase of requests for information and advices by the management of our clients. The number of calls to our Assistance Centers by managers has been multiplied by 10.
As a consequence, we have adapted our operational resources, grown our intelligence and analysis resources and enriched our response enablers to stick to the needs clients expressed. Medical and Security assistance became as well much more complex in an environment where all local infrastructures were under the tremendous pressure imposed by COVID-19. Nevertheless leveraging our 26 Assistance Centers across the 5 continents we maintained the same operational level :
We assisted over 33 000 COVID-19 related cases.
We completed TeleConsultation cases in 24 countries.
We operated 30 charters with 1,900 passengers.
We were able to perform over 450 air ambulance movements for COVID-19 patients & other patients, from over 100 countries
As with every crisis there is always a lot of room for innovation coming from an extreme situation. Has the crisis lead to any new products and services that your clients can benefit from?
Yes, agility and innovation were instrumental skills ! I am extremely proud of what our team managed to achieve in the past very challenging months.
Following our client’s requests, we rapidly expanded beyond our traveler and assignee proposition, to provide a holistic Workforce Resilience solution.
COVID-19 made our clients realise that the support to staff was to be consistently managed whatever people are in-country people managers, site-based workers, domestic and international business travelers, international assignees and office/ home based workers.
The response has to be holistic (from blue collar mental health to assignees mass evacuations) and consistent across the entire worldwide workforce. No more silos. Fascinating times during which we work now simultaneously with HR, Corporate Security, Business continuity and Travel managers.
The scope of our services is now available to any employee of our clients and designed to the specific need of each staff category. The support to management has been as well reinforced with insights and advisory that supports business resilience. We are of course heavily engaged in facilitating business travel resumption, but we support as well the mitigation of COVID-19 and others health risks at the workplace whatever it is company premises or employee’s home.
What is your outlook 2021 like from a business perspective?
COVID-19 is an accelerator ! We expect it to transform our business lives at least as much as September 11 did change permanently the philosophy of security in the business travel environment.
Health is now a strategic driver on the radar of CEOs. The Human Capital Resilience shall certainly become a major pillar of organisation’s sustainability.
We will carry on expanding our focus on Workforce Resilience to support that strategic agenda. In terms of risk trends for the coming year : I highly recommend to attend our Risk Outlook 2021 online conference on 10th of December. Among other topics discussed by our experts and external thought leaders, we will disclose the result of a Resilience Trends Survey conducted with Ipsos MORI over 1,400 risk professionals across 99 countries. Quite insightful ! LINK