Telekom Slovenije D D

Though privatized in 1998, Telekom Slovenije is still controlled by the Slovenian government thanks to its 62% stake. With revenues in 2005 totaling just 380 million euros, Telekom Slovenije isn't exactly a major player in the European telecommunications sector. Then again, Slovenia's population numbers only 2.1 million inhabitants.

Telekom Slovenije's headquarters complex sits on a prime corner in downtown Ljubljana with the city's central train station just across the street. A 13-story building (built in the 1970's?) sits adjacent to a 4-story brownish building (built in the 1950's?). A two-story reflective glass structure seems to connect the two-though it doesn't mesh very well with either building. A transmission tower, which undoubtedly could be parlayed into a lit-up Christmas tree during the holidays, sits atop the taller building.

A security guard mans the reception desk in the 13-story building and the lobby area is very small with one sofa off to the side. I explain sending my introduction material a month earlier to CEO Libor Voncina, only to learn Voncina recently left the company. The guards places a few calls and says I should drop back later.

Returning in the afternoon the same guard connects me via lobby phone with Boris Ziherl, Public Relations Office. In a few minutes Ziherl is in the lobby and says my letter of introduction hadn't been received. After much pleading from me, Ziherl agrees to answer my questions sitting on the lobby sofa. It's quite frustrating though as it's 3PM and thanks to flexible work time, employees are pouring out of the elevators heading home. It's hard asking question above the noise. It's also pretty much a wasted visit thanks to the indifferent Ziherl.

About 400 people work here with senior management enjoying reserved parking spots. Conference rooms are numbered, the food in the company cafeteria according to Ziherl is "pretty good", smoking isn't allowed in offices and the company's art collection is primarily limited to Slovenian artists. Any employee perks? Discounts on phone services.

I ask if I can see the boardroom and CEO Bojan Dremelj's office and am met with a dismissive "no". "Why not?", I ask. "There are eye and fingerprint scanners", says Ziherl. I look at Ziherl in disbelief but don't say anything. I've been to almost 4,000 companies around the world and have never once seen or heard of companies using eye or fingerprint scanners. So, I'm supposed to believe that this government-controlled, minnow-size telecommunications company in a not-too-long-ago former communist country is that high-tech? I think it has more to do with Ziherl just wanting to get through the questions and leave.

Well, so much for getting a feel of the corporate culture here. I travel all the way from California to visit this company and the result is a five-minute meeting in a noisy lobby with an indifferent company press officer. Was my letter of introduction mailed a month earlier to the former CEO opened by the new CEO? If it was opened, where was it directed? If it wasn't opened, why not?

Company website: