Baloise Holding

I visited this insurance holding company three years ago and it wasn't a pleasant experience. Matter of fact, Baloise Holding, with over $5 billion in revenues, made my list of Ten Worst Receptions in Switzerland. I'm returning to the scene of the crime to see if it was a fluke. Several days earlier I received an E-mail from Philippe Donche, who works in Baloise's Sponsoring & Events department. In the E-mail Donche says my letter to the CEO ended up on his desk and he was my contact person. He also mentioned checking out my Web site and finding Baloise on the Ten Worst Receptions in Switzerland list.

Baloise's three building headquarters complex lies on wide tree-lined boulevard with the Basel Hilton hotel its next door neighbor (I later find out the insurance company owns the hotel). The Swiss railway station is a short three-minute walk away.
The reception area is in a nine-story reflective glass structure built in 1982. I end up receiving an extensive tour of the facility thanks to the accommodating Donche. Out of a company-wide total of 2,500, about 1,500 employees work here.

The good-looking cafeteria, located on the second floor, seats 500 and even allows employees to eat on outside balconies. Smoking is allowed in offices and they even have covered parking for bicycles.

CEO Rolf Schauble has a top floor corner office in the newest building but, I'm not able to take a peek because he's in a meeting. Down the hall I take a look in the boardroom, which looks more like a conference room. I note the two real plants and VCR. The boardroom also contains an unusual piece of art; a plaster-like carving of a miniature man holding up a facemask. I ask Rahel Schauble, CEO Schauble's secretary (and daughter) if it's suppose to symbolize two-faced people. She's not sure.

By far the most interesting tidbit I pick up has to do with Donche leaving his job here and moving to another company. In Switzerland you give SIX MONTHS notice. When you announce you're leaving and the company doesn't want you around-they have to pay you for six months! Donche said he mentioned this to an American couple last week and they reacted just like I did-- with utter amazement. Here's the funny part, he's going to go work for Robert Bosch, one of Germany's biggest companies. What's so funny? Well, I'm going to be making a return visit to Robert Bosch because like Baloise in Switzerland they made my list of Ten Worst Receptions in Germany.

Holy cow, Donche loads me down with a slew of goodies including a Swiss ice hockey shirt (the company is a league sponsor), a cap, two writing pens, a deck of cards and an umbrella.