Fast Track: A-Z of Employers ORANGE

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The Independent Culture
Age: Almost five.

History: Orange began life in April 1994 and has since become one of the strongest and most recognised digital mobile phone networks in the UK. Last year, it opened a new pounds 11m call centre in Darlington and, this year, it opened its fourth customer service centre in Peterlee in the North-east. This year, Orange launches overseas operations in a number of countries including Belgium and Switzerland. It will shortly be launching Wildfire - a voice-activated personal assistant. Orange video phone will be launched next spring.

Address: Head office is in Bristol, with principal offices in London, Hertford and Darlington, and regional offices throughout the UK. Orange also has 55 retail shops.

Ambience: "Orange is a company in which people are constantly asking `What if?'," says a spokesperson. "The more we pool our knowledge and exchange ideas, the more answers we'll get, and the more interesting they'll become." The working environment is fairly informal, with dress-down days on Fridays and at weekends.

Vital statistics: Orange plc is 44.8 per cent owned by the Hong Kong- based Hutchison Whampoa conglomerate, 5 per cent by British Aerospace, with the remainder publicly held. The company employs some 5,600 people in the UK, 900 in Europe, and it has just announced plans to recruit an additional 2,000 employees over the next two years. Over 2.39m customers in the UK.

Lifestyle: The average age of staff is only 31, so a youthful approach prevails. Graduates are expected to make an active contribution to the success and future of the business - so they should expect to work long hours.

Easy to get into? Career options include engineering, information technology, marketing, finance and human resources. Graduates should hold "a good degree" in their chosen field as well as having commitment and drive.

Glittering alumni: None, it seems.

Pay: Graduate trainees earn approximately pounds 17,500. In addition, staff receive a pension scheme, life assurance, medical cover, permanent health insurance, study leave and 25 days' holiday.

Training: Because Orange is so new, training programmes for graduates are still evolving. But the key characteristics of the two-year programme are: general induction course; specific courses for your chosen field; personal skills training and development (incorporating communication, presentation, commercial and teamwork); and at least six three-month placements in order to expose you to senior management and to extend your network of relationships. Most training takes place in Bristol and Hertford. In addition, you'll get your own mentor from middle/senior management and fully-financed support for studies towards professional qualifications. Expect your first functional appointment within 20-24 months.

Facilities: Larger sites have an on-site canteen and staff rest-rooms.

Who's the boss? Hans Snook is the chief executive and group managing director; he joined in 1993.

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