Monday, April 03, 2006

Blogging from Vienna

Tomorrow I will be speaking at the Vienna Stock Exchange on CEO Capital. My book on CEO reputation was just translated and launched by Linde International.

Although many Austrian CEOs are not well-known worldwide, I found out a few interesting facts. The energy drink Red Bull is Austrian and founded by CEO Dietrich Mateschitz, one of Forbes' wealthiest people. This brand is probably Austria's most global. Other fine companies with less global recognition include energy group OMV, Erste Bank and Wienerberger (the world's biggest brickmaker).

Back to the Wiener Borse Ag. The Vienna Stock Exchange was actually founded by a woman in 1771. Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresia's fine reputation was marked by major reforms which modernized the country's administration, reorganized the army, eased the life of the peasants, introduced compulsory school attendance and abolished torture. She set the standard for Austria today by exhibiting an outstanding sense of responsibility, credibility and diligence to the end of her days. Her impressive legacy carries on as noted in yesterday's The New York Times Business section (Off the Charts by Floyd Norris). When it comes to best performance for country stock market indexes around the world, the greatest change and number one leader comes from none other than Austria (+375%). Comparatively, the U.S. stock market index has increased only +59% since September 2002. Maria Theresia knew what she was doing. The Austrian stock market is as hyper-caffeinated as Red Bull.

In light of all this financial success, Austrian business is trying to now distance itself and its reputation from its biggest banking crisis in decades -- the Austrian Trade Union's ownership of Bawag bank and its risky business dealings with Refco. The good news is that the trade union, OGB, is trying to sell the bank. The Bawag bank is a blemish on Austria's reputation but quick action might be able to lessen the sting.

Without a doubt, I will be asked about how long it takes a company or organization to recover its reputation.


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