Bank Austria

Though Bank Austria is now merely a subsidiary of HVB Group, Germany's second largest bank, it's still worth visiting because it's Austria's largest bank. I'm disappointed when the address I have for the head office brings me to a modernistic building near the ring road that encircles Vienna's city center. Why? I was hoping the bank's head office would be a grand historic building in Vienna's old town.

I meet with Peter Thier, Head of International Public Relations, and learn this building is the registered office but head honcho Gerhard Randa has his office in a building near Stephanplatz, the plaza anchored by the magnificent cathedral. So, the questions asked Thier concern the dazzling seven-story Art Deco-looking edifice (built in 1921) near the cathedral.

My question about the number of employees working in the head office is difficult to answer because it isn't broken down. Headquarters consists of four buildings in the city center area with a total of 1,000 employees. Senior management get reserved parking spots, smoking in shared offices depends on the okay of colleagues, the company's art collection is limited to Austrian artists and modern (from 1960's onward), it's 10-minutes to nearest freeway, 30 minutes to Vienna Airport and there's no formal dress code though suit and tie are required Monday through Thursday. Employee perks consists of the usual found at banks including discounts on home loans.

My request to see CEO Gerhard Randa office is denied because "we don't do that". I do however get Thier to call over to the Art Deco building and have them show me the boardroom. The banking lobby in the Art Deco building is absolutely gorgeous. The boardroom is a real beaut with a hardwood floor and intricate wood paneling running up to the two-story tall ceiling. The large boardroom table seats 34.