European Investment Bank

I already know who's my contact person at European Investment Bank. Mercedes Sendin de Caceres from the corporate communications department notified me several weeks ago via E-mail that she's the one. She also mentioned over 1,000 people from 15 different countries work at the head office so it's got to be a huge place AND it definitely won't be another mail drop address.

What's the EIB? The Treaty of Rome (1958) created it and its shareholders are member states of the European Union. The Board of Governors is composed of the Finance Ministers of these states. What's the mission of the bank? "To further the objectives of the European Union by making long-term finance available for sound investment". Are we talking big money here? Well, the EIB is bigger than the World Bank. In 1998 the EIB handed out over 25 billion euros in loans (roughly $23 billion in US dollars).

Cycling several miles from the city center brings me to a slew of buildings encompassing a square mile area. The shape and sizes of the buildings vary with many being reflective glass. Who are the occupants of these buildings? Many European institutions have their offices here including the European Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors and the General Secretariat of the European Parliament to name a few. I guesstimate there must be several thousand bureaucrats massed in this compact area. The very large, expensive-looking, nearly completed building right across the street from the EIB is the new home of the European Court of Justice.

Within minutes of checking in with the security guard, Ms. Caceres arrives and gives me a warm welcome.. The first thing we do is wheel my bike down into the underground parking lot because they don't allow vehicles of any kind to be left parked outside the entrance. Lots of free covered parking for employee cars and bicycles (over 975 parking slots).

The seven-story, 350,000 square foot EIB building was built 1976-1980 with a 120,000 square foot extension in 1991. If you were to eyeball it from an airplane it would be shaped like a cross.

Normal work hours here are from 8 to 5 with lunch served between 12 and 3. Everyone punches in and out via a time clock. There're a cafeteria plus a restaurant where you get waited on. The cafeteria food is great and receives the two thumbs up sign of approval from me. I'm somewhat surprised when passing the beverage area at the large and very extensive selection of wine one can choose from. Then I remember France is one of the EU 15 members.

The variety of recreational facilities here is impressive. There's an indoor pool, two tennis courts, two Ping-Pong tables, two squash courts, billiards, weight room and an indoor basketball gymnasium.

English and French are the two official languages of the EIB. Got great qualifications and an impressive resume? Thinking about applying for a job with the EIB? If you aren't a national from one of the 15 member countries then you can squash that thought.

Art seems to be everywhere in the building and an art committee oversees it. Hallways are lined with paintings and tapestries (mostly contemporary) plus various sculptures are scattered about. One very strange looking piece of art placed in a busy corridor area has picked up the unofficial name of "Viagara". Why? It's a four-foot tall piece of metal/brick that rises up in a straight angle.

EIB's contains background information. The boardroom seats 150 and includes a booth that seats 10 translators. Nothing fancy about CEO Sir Brian Unwin's modest, fourth floor, corner office digs. It's pretty easy to get somewhere from here with the airport only several miles away, the nearest freeway a mere 100 yards and central train station a quick 10-minute drive.