I visited UBS six years ago, received a nice reception, but the
five-story building was undergoing renovations. I'm checking
back to see how things turned out (go to my archive section to
read the first visit).
The head office of UBS fronts Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich's premiere
shopping and business address. Built in the 1920's, the building
has a solid yet understated appearance. The trees lining the
street block most of the building from view and I'm sure many
of the tourists walking by haven't a clue it's the head office
for one of the world's biggest banks. Revenues last year were
$49 billion with 80,000 employees.
Entering the building there's a banking hall but it's not huge,
grand or opulent, as one would expect. I stop at the information
desk manned by several people and ask if this is also the reception
area for the head office. It is. I spend the next 30 minutes
trying to track down who ended up with my letter of introduction
sent a month earlier to Chairman & CEO Marcel Ospel. I leave
not knowing. In the month since the letter was mailed out Ospel
relinquished the CEO title and Peter Wuffli is now CEO. I return
the next day and there's still no news for me. I return a third
day and am told they're still trying to track down the letter.
Meanwhile I leave more background material with the reception/security
guards. I return a fourth day and receive both good and bad news.
The bad news: they can't find my letter. The good news: Christoph
Meier, Executive Director-Head Group Media Relations Switzerland,
will meet with me.
Of course I have to fill Meier in about what I do since he's
been given no advance briefing. I get a dig in about the bank's
sloppiness in not having my letter-especially since it wasn't
a problem six years ago but, I also thank him for showing flexibility
in taking the time on such short notice to answer questions and
walk me around the place.
The head office and several nearby buildings house nearly a thousand
employees. Parking in Zurich's city center is scarce and expensive
so only senior management gets reserved parking spots. Smoking
policy varies from building to building and even from department
to department. It's a 20-minute taxi ride to Zurich Airport,
executive dining rooms are named after cities and there're no
on-site recreational facilities.
I can't see CEO Wuffli's fourth floor middle office with a view
of the Bahnhofstrasse because it's "too personal".
I do have a look in the modernistic black carpeted boardroom
on the fifth floor. Gray chairs surround a gray elongated oval-shaped
table seating 28.