SES Global S.A.
Leaving Luxembourg City and cycling a dozen miles east brings
me to Betzdorf, a picturesque farming village tucked away in
a narrow valley that contains more cows than people. The address
I have for the headquarters of SES Global, one of the world's
largest satellite operators, is simply: Chateau de Betzdorf.
Following a winding country road past fields of ripening corn
and various other crops I'm brought to a stop on a side of the
road by something unusual up on a hill. At first glance it looks
like a forest of gigantic mushrooms but then I figure out what
they are: giant satellite dishes (click
for photo). Hmm, I must be getting close to SES.
A steep road leads up toward the satellite dishes and I'm soon
stopped at a glassed-in security booth where I have to first
pass muster with the guard (click
for photo). Then it's onward to the reception area of the
elegant three-story chateau. Built in the 1920's this listed
(protected) chateau was evidently used as a residence or getaway
for the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and his family. I say this because
the white marbled reception area contains framed family pictures
of the former Grand Duke. I count seven plants (real) scattered
about the room along with eight red leather chairs.
It's a fun visit thanks to the hospitable welcome and extensive
tour of the place given to me by Jean-Paul Hoffmann, VP-Corporate
Communications. SES has been here since 1989 and about 40 people
work in the head office though quite a few more work onsite for
subsidiaries. Employee parking is free and plentiful, those who
bicycle to work enjoy covered parking, meetings rooms are named
after planets and smoking isn't allowed in the workplace. A separate
nearby modern building houses the good-looking company cafeteria
which overlooks a sizeable fishpond. Adjacent to the cafeteria
there's an indoor multipurpose room that can be configured for
a full-size basketball court, tennis court or meeting hall. A
state-of-the-art fitness center with showers adjoins the multipurpose
room. There's no corporate aircraft and no formal dress code---
though appropriate business attire is required and Casual Fridays
are observed. It's 15 minutes by car to Luxembourg City airport,
10 minutes to the nearest freeway and 30 minutes to downtown
CEO Romain Bausch occupies a corner office on the first floor.
I count three plants (real), three rockets (toy models), two
satellites (scale models), one computer, no family pictures and
a stand-up desk. What's the view out his window? The well-manicured
grounds. The table in the first floor boardroom seats 30.
Revenues in 2004 totaled $1.5 billion with 985 employees. The
Luxembourg government, together with two state-owned banks owns
a one-third stake in SES. That explains how SES was able to lease
the government-owned chateau. Company website: www.ses-global.com