UCB SA



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 Doliveux–who'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 parking.

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