Siemens AG

With $70 billion in revenues and over 400,000 employees, Siemens is in the big, big leagues. I visited the pink palace head office of this behemoth three years ago and left frustrated. Why? First I was told they hadn't received my letter then, the fellow who came down to the reception and answered my questions wouldn't take me past the lobby. What's the big deal? The four-story, pinkish-colored palace built in 1825 was home to Prince Ludwig Ferdinand. It overlooks a large plaza area and high-end boutiques are around the corner. Several locals told me it's known as the "pink palace".

Aw jeez, it's like instant replay. The receptionist calls up CEO Henrich Pierer's secretary to find out to whom my introductory letter had been referred and just like three years earlier (Pierer was CEO) the receptionist is told they hadn't received my letter. Now if I was mailing a letter to Spain or Italy where they have a reputation for sloppy mail then I might understand but the German postal service is one of the best. Plus, the letter to Siemens was mailed from Switzerland-so it's not like it was lost flying over the Atlantic Ocean.

After a few minutes Peter Olfs, Corporate Communications-International, comes to the reception area. I explain what I'm doing and how I was here three years ago. Olfs asks, "why would Siemens want to participate?, what benefit is there for us?" I give several reasons including, "Siemens is this huge faceless company and what I do helps to personalize a company". I don't know if I persuaded him but he says he'll give me 40 minutes and then he's catching a flight to China where he'll be participating in a workshop. I tell him it'll only take 10 minutes. Actually, I already had the answers to the questions from my last visit. The big moment is when I ask if I can see the CEO's office and boardroom. It's a quick "no". I ask if there's any chance of getting to see something other than the lobby I'm standing in. It's another quick "no". Olfs, a nice enough guy, makes the grand gesture of walking me outside the building and pointing out CEO Pierer's middle office on a middle floor. Pierer has a balcony just like the kings did in the olden days-you know when they stepped out onto the balcony and addressed their loyal subjects massed in the plaza.

What I don't understand is the Email received later this day from a woman in Siemen's corporate communications department. It basically said Siemens wishes me well in my endeavor but aren't interested in participating. Does that mean they had my letter all along? Most companies log in their mail, how come the CEO's secretary couldn't find it?