It was a little confusing figuring out who's the CEO at pharmaceutical/chemical
concern UCB as the company doesn't specify on its website so
I mailed my letter of introduction to Baron Jacobs, Chairman-Executive
Committee who's also Chairman of the Board of Directors. Soon
after I appreciate receiving an email from Muriel Le Grelle,
Assistant to Baron Jacobs, letting me know my letter had been
forwarded to CEO Roch Doliveuxwho's listed on UCB's website
as being Executive Director.
It has been raining all morning upon arriving at UCB's headquarters
and it momentarily stops so I can snap the picture accompanying
this story. That sculpture on the mound looks like a winged character
out of Greek mythology. The grounds on the property are well-groomed
and could pass muster for a golf course. Lucky for me there's
a small glass overhang near the front door so I can peel off
my rain gear as it starts pouring again.
A ring road freeway encircles Brussels and UCB's 10-acre headquarters
site stands about 300 meters from said freeway. Downtown Brussels
lies about four miles away. UCB, with 2004 revenues of 3.1 billion
euros and 8,300 employees, was formed in1928. The connecting
buildings (the tallest being five stories) and well-tended grounds
gives the feel of being on a campus.
After checking in with the friendly receptionist I take a seat
in the large waiting area and am soon told there's nobody around
to meet with me as most are on vacation. I persist because this
is my only opportunity to visit. Before long I'm meeting with
Roland Neuckermans, Assistant Manager Site Facilities. Having
no idea who I am or what I do Neuckermans isn't very keen to
be the one talking to me but, having been corralled by higher-ups
he's pretty much stuck.
Built in 1998, about 430 people work here. Employee parking is
free and plentiful, smoking isn't allowed in offices and there's
no formal dress code. I'm impressed with the state-of-the-art
fitness center (with showers) and also the bright and spacious
cafeteria. A pond complete with koi (type of fish) gives diners
something to look at out the large windows. It's 12 miles to
Brussels airport and workers commuting via bicycle get covered
Taking in the view of the beautiful grounds from the top floor
I can see where the nearby freeway acts as a boundary on one
side and train tracks on another. I spot several houses on the
edge of the property. Partially shrouded by trees and vegetation
the houses were definitely built many, many years before UCB
arrived. Pointing to the houses I ask, "are those yours?".
Neuckermans nods and says they're accommodations for UCB guests.
In my many years of travels I've visited dozens of companies
with similar onsite homes, mansions, cottages or in some instances
hotels situated on company grounds. As always, I'm informed these
accommodations are reserved for important company guests or visitors.
Boy, it would be cool to, just once, get an invite to stay over
in one of these usually five-star properties. Then again, the
key word is "important" and a guy cycling up on a pannier-loaded
bicycle for a visit doesn't seem to fit that bill.
What does CEO Doliveux's third floor office and the boardroom
look like? Don't know as Neuckermans isn't comfortable asking
someone if I can see them. I tell Neuckermans I have no problem
asking someone. Neuckermans checks and says it isn't possible.
Company website: www.ucb-group.com