Serono, with revenues in 2001 of $1.38 billion and 4,200 employees,
is one of the world's biggest biotechnology companies. I was
expecting more of a high-profile facility but the five-story
head office building sits tucked away on a side street several
miles from downtown Geneva.
The reception area, manned by two receptionists, is bright and
airy with a hardwood floor. Visitors can plop down on eight orangish-colored
chairs. Two flower arrangements center the coffee tables with
five plants scattered about the room. There's a Time magazine
and a slew of The Economist magazines to peruse. As I've mentioned
before if I was stranded on an island and could have only one
magazine, The Economist would be it.
Marc Aubert, Manager Media & Public Relations, and I head
to the cafeteria where he answers questions. Serono rents this
building but in 2003 plans to move into a brand new place. Where?
Behind this head office building is an old factory (not Serono's)
and it'll soon be torn down. Directly across the street from
Serono's front entrance is a five-story research facility and
between the two there's a total of 500 employees.
There're no recreational facilities here although the Lake Geneva
lakefront is only a block away. Smoking isn't allowed. As I've
mentioned many times, as a general rule, if the CEO smokes then
smoking is allowed in the offices. If the CEO does not smoke,
then it's usually banned. CEO Ernesto Bertarelli is not a smoker.
There's no corporate art collection, cyclists have covered parking,
there's no formal dress code, it's five minutes to the nearest
freeway and a ten-minute drive to the airport. Meeting and conference
rooms are named after constellations and planets.
I can't see CEO Bertarelli's top floor corner office because
he's in a meeting. The boardroom contains no plants with the
black boardroom table seating 12.