Fast Track: A-Z of Employers Pitney Bowes

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Age: 77

History: Pitney Bowes' most successful product was the franking machine, an idea which struck Arthur Pitney in 1901. The company is still known for products which manage messages between businesses, especially in post, fax and copying. It has financial services, logistics, and mailroom operations.

Address: More than 1,000 people work at PB's European headquarters at Harlow, Essex, base of one of its two factories. (The other is at the world HQ in Connecticut). Sales and service offices in Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Birmingham. PB has nine other European centres and sells in 120 countries.

Ambience: PB is the leader in its field, and aims to register innovative patents and manage costs and people. Office staff dress casually, but sales staff have gleaming shoes and pressed suits.

Vital statistics: Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the company has a turnover of around pounds 2.5bn. Its worldwide share in postage meters is more than 60 per cent.

Lifestyle: Sales staff are expected to work whatever hours suit their clients, but are rewarded with a hefty commission.

Easy to get into? You don't have to be a graduate to be a top salesperson, but many choose this route to move into managerial positions in marketing, training or human resources. There are a few opportunities to work for the company during a sandwich year. For more details, see www.pitneybowes.com/europe

Glittering alumni: Dennis Thatcher was a director in the 1980s.

Pay: Sales staff start from pounds 12,000, but, says a spokesperson: "Your expected earnings will be in the high twenties. If you get into the thirties you're likely to get a convention or two. The best earn pounds 50,000 in their first year."

Training: Starts with a three-week course, with later updates. An Investor in People, Pitney Bowes encourages its factory staff to take IT courses. There is language training and sponsored MBAs.

Facilities: Lunchtime service only at the canteen in Harlow, but a shop does sandwiches from 10am. There's a cheque cashing service, dry-cleaning and photo processing.

Who's the boss? Chairman Mike Critelli trained as a lawyer; European mailing president Patrick Keddy is a former British Gas marketing man; and UK managing director Angus Drever arrived from Toshiba.

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