A-Z of companies; Oracle

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The Independent Culture
Age: 22

History: Larry Ellison formed the company in San Francisco in 1977. It expanded steadily for five years, and then suddenly mushroomed as Oracle Corporation became the largest supplier of database software and the second largest supplier of business applications in the world. Its future, not surprisingly, is in the Internet.

Address: British HQ is in Reading, with regional offices in Bracknell, the City, Manchester and Scotland. Oracle also has offices in 139 other countries including, of course, its homeland - the US.

Ambience: This is a real "go get" company, rich in innovative spirit and visionary in its outlook. But the emphasis on its results-driven culture leaves it with a certain reputation for being an aggressive company. There is no place for loners here - interaction with and support from your colleagues is vital.

Vital statistics: In recent years, its service businesses - consulting, education and support - has come to represent around half of its annual income. Its revenue and employees trebled over 1996-98 when revenue reached $8bn. There are over 45,000 employees worldwide, with 4,500 in the UK. In fact, Oracle Corporation UK Limited is the Group's largest subsidiary outside of the US.

Lifestyle: Biggest plus: fast growth, vast opportunity. Biggest minus: it's an extremely demanding environment. All staff are expected to work very long hours. International opportunities are plentiful.

Easy to get into? Work areas include applications design and development, systems integration, consulting, customer support, training and IT, along with the professional areas of finance, marketing and sales, legal and HR. This year, 65 graduates will be recruited. There are no formal expectations in terms of grades, but staff must be original thinkers who look beyond conventional solutions. In addition, staff must be self-motivated, in charge of their own careers and lives, and they must welcome ambitious targets. This is not a place where you can stay in the background.

Glittering alumni: Larry Ellison, renowned worldwide for his place in the world of computing.

Pay: Oracle is competitive on pay, at the upper quartile of the computer industry. Benefits packages are very flexible, designed for each employee's personal satisfaction.

Training: New arrivals are sent on an intensive training course, which lasts five to eight weeks and involves practical exercises and working on a recent "real" project. But professional education doesn't end once you're good enough to do the job you were brought in for. Oracle supports people who want to gain further qualifications, running a full range of business programmes in association with the University of Reading, from a Certificate in Management to an MBA.

Facilities: In Reading, there is a choice of six "top class" restaurants and access to the local David Lloyd gym. Other sites' offerings vary significantly.

Who's the boss? Chairman and Chief Executive is Larry Ellison.