International SOS started its journey more than 35 years ago and today it is the world’s leading health and security services company with a global clientele in more than 1,000 locations across 90 countries, with its Global HQ in London. In Malaysia, International SOS was established in 1996 with operations in more than 100 remote sites across Peninsular and East Malaysia. Our headquarters houses the company’s 24/7 Kuala Lumpur Assistance Centre and Asia Response Centre in KL Sentral where health and security advisory and assistance are provided to our clients across various sectors, including offshore operations in Asia-Pacific. Our workforce consists of 450 local employees, with more than half being medical professionals. We also partner with over 2,500 clinics, hospitals and logistics providers across the country to manage over 8,500 cases yearly, of which around 120 are medical and security evacuations. Perkhidmatan Antarabangsa SOS (PKASOS), a joint venture company was founded in 2010 to meet Malaysia’s growing medical services needs. PKASOS delivers medical services to both local and international organisations in the energy, mining, infrastructure and government sectors in Malaysia.
What are some of your organisation’s proudest moments/milestones in Malaysia?
Recently, our proudest milestones have been the support to our client organisations throughout the pandemic, where we have been at the forefront of providing medical and security assistance. Since its early onset, International SOS has facilitated the safe return of Malaysians from countries such as Argentina, India, Africa and Iraq, to name a few, when borders were closing quickly. We further conducted various medical evacuations of patients from Myanmar, Indonesia and Central Asia who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, requiring special medical care and the utilisation of our Portable Isolation Units. Considering the numerous challenges arising from international travel restrictions, government permits and the need for rapid mobilisation, these missions were no easy feat. However, our successes are indicative of our vast expertise within our people and the strong global network we possess. We are also proud to have played a role in the Malaysian Government’s efforts towards achieving herd immunity. Through the Public-Private Partnership, our vaccination centres were set up in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Perak and Johor to assist in the administration of over 200,000 vaccine doses.
Based on your overall experience of doing business in Malaysia, name the advantages of doing business in Malaysia.
There are numerous advantages to doing business in Malaysia, apart from its strategic geography within South East Asia. We based our South East Asia regional head office and operations in Kuala Lumpur because of its robust infrastructure and promising growth in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, its legal system, supportive government policies and legislation, and attractive financial and tax incentives. The cost of doing business in Malaysia is relatively low too; however, one of the most important advantages is the multi-talented and multi-lingual talent pool available here. Despite the economic uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth prospects in Malaysia remain optimistic due to its strong fundamentals. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report 2020, Malaysia ranked 12th amongst 190 global companies, and 2nd in South East Asia.
Based on your experience in operating in Malaysia, what are the three most important criteria for achieving business success in Malaysia?
People. The recruitment, retention and development of diverse talents is crucial for any organisation. As an employer of choice, we place a lot of emphasis on learning and development as we believe expanding our people’s skills and knowledge will make them more adapt and competitive to take on global and regional opportunities. Some of our initiatives include internal and external classroom trainings, e-learning courses, a MyCareer App for employee learning and a dedicated training centre in Miri. Over the years, we have enabled our local talents to learn and take over from our foreign employees, and I am proud to say almost our entire workforce of about 450 employees strong, are locals. It is important to take advantage of the multi-skilled talents we have in Malaysia, and to nurture and develop them.
Quality. As a service provider, the delivery of excellent customer experience at every touchpoint with our clients is crucial to our business success. The same philosophy applies to any company regardless of its business nature, whereby the assurance of quality and consistency in delivery can be seen in the passion and care demonstrated throughout all levels of an organisation. Where applicable, it is advantageous to obtain and showcase the company’s ISO certificate for multi-national companies seeking to do business in Malaysia. At International SOS for instance, we have a global ISO 9001:2015 certification and an ISO/IEC 27001:2013 Certificate for Information Security Management. We are also the world’s first company to achieve the ISO/TS 13131 certification for TeleHealth as well as the Bureau Veritas ‘Technical Standard related to Personal Data Protection’ on a global scale.
Innovation. The fast-changing pace of world events, technological advancements, infrastructure and customer needs calls for adaptability and innovation as key components for any organisation to succeed in Malaysia. At International SOS, we are committed to developing new products and services to cater to the evolving needs of our clients. From the International SOS App to Information & Tracking services, global TeleHealth to WorkSafe, all our innovations are incorporated with our health, security and logistics expertise, and with the needs of our clients in mind. Recently, we launched a brand new digital solution, the International SOS HealthCloud 360 – a fully integrated and secure end-to-end digital platform that underpins our testing and vaccination solutions.
How has your business evolved during this pandemic, especially in terms of optimisation of human and technology resources?
We have never been busier in the past two years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the beginning, International SOS took immediate actions to support the business continuity plans and risk mitigation measures of our client organisations by ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their workforce. The rapidly evolving situation of the pandemic called for various innovative solutions, from remote and onsite crisis management, quarantine centres, COVID-19 testing services, informational updates and webinars to bespoke wellness and mental health programmes.
We believe that COVID-19 has caused a long-term structural shift in the digital healthcare sector. As such, we have responded to the increasing demand for virtual medical services by offering tele-consultation via digital tools such as our International SOS Wellbeing App that encourages healthy lifestyle and provides preventive information on how to reduce the risk of contracting non-communicable diseases. Through our Asia Response Centre, our tele-medicine services are currently being used by our clients on offshore sites. With this digital capability, we can diagnose a patient and offer appropriate recommendations remotely.
Currently, our support to clients is centred around COVID-19 and we foresee this to continue in the medium term. Today we are providing COVID-19 screening and vaccination for our clients. As borders are reopening for both domestic and international travel, we see huge potential for companies to engage our services to protect their employees as they resume travels overseas. With COVID-19 still lingering around, travellers would require a lot of support to enable them to travel safely. With our Workforce Resilience solution, we can prepare organisations for layered threat environments and provide them with assistance anytime, anywhere for any question, concern or crisis. Our Crisis Management Gap Analysis is another solution that provides our clients with an impartial, expert-led analysis of their organisation’s crisis management structures and processes. It helps them anticipate, adapt, and respond to major disruptions, ensuring their employees and assets are safeguarded while supporting operational continuity.
What recommendation or advice would you give to other companies looking to invest or do in business in Malaysia?
As established, Malaysia is considered a country with conducive business environments to invest or do business in. However, in expanding your business to any new country, it is important to have a firm understanding of the health, security, culture and business ethics in the country. This includes a comprehension of your target market and demographics, as what may be considered successful business models in other countries may differ here. Another recommendation would be to partner with a local service provider or expert that can assist and support with local regulations or policies. This would greatly facilitate your company in setting up in Malaysia, from the legal, financial and logistical frameworks.
What are the top three reasons for your organisation joining the BMCC?
The BMCC is one of the oldest and most prolific Chambers in Malaysia. As with any company keen to expand its network and promote its brand awareness, affiliation with the BMCC makes good business sense. The robust community of members within the private education, oil & gas and construction sectors as well as the range of events and topical webinars held regularly by the BMCC are valued benefits of being a member.
What is the top value you see for yourself or your organisation in being a member of the BMCC?
The opportunity to network and increase the profile of our company, including the added exposure and publicity through BMCC’s communication channels.
In one sentence, how would you describe your own experience or your organisation’s experience as a member of the BMCC?
International SOS has benefitted from the Chamber’s numerous avenues to connect and engage with other company leaders and government officials throughout the years and appreciates the value-added privileges provided to Sterling members.