Fast Track: A-Z of employers - Procter and Gamble

Age: 69.

History: The parent company was founded in Ohio in 1837 by brothers- in-law William Procter, a candle maker from England and James Gamble, a soap maker from Ireland. Within a year, the company had generated incredible sales of $50,000, despite competition from more than 20 other soap and candle companies. Later, it pioneered a profit-sharing programme and was among the first to invest in a research laboratory. By 1890, the fledgling partnership had become a multi-million dollar corporation. Forty years on, Procter & Gamble bought its first overseas concern: Thomas Hedley & Co Ltd in England. Today's products range from laundry products to drinks. Brands include Fairy Liquid, Daz, Crest toothpaste, Pringles, and Oil of Ulay.

Address: Head office, in Gosforth, Newcastle, opened in 1953 and has around 500 staff. A similar-sized office in Weybridge is home to the European administrative headquarters for health and beauty. In addition, there are smaller plants nationwide.

Ambience: Young, dynamic, competitive but friendly. A spokeswoman says there's a business-like atmosphere combined with the "real life, real people feel you'd expect from a manufacturer of household name brands".

Vital statistics: It serves around 5 million consumers worldwide - a fourfold increase in the last 20 years. It operates in more than 70 countries and sells in around 140. It employs more than 103,000 people.

Lifestyle: Late hours in the office are, apparently, rare. Graduate recruits are expected to be mobile within the UK - the company offers help with relocation - and there are opportunities for foreign placements. Easy to get into? Not exactly. Graduate-level jobs are the only entrance point and up to 15,000 apply for 100 posts (in marketing, finance, human resources, IT, R&D, manufacturing and purchasing). The graduate hotline is on 0800 056 52 58 (UK) or 1800 55 1727 (ROI), or look up the website:

Glittering alumni: Labour's Chief Whip Nick Brown, former minister, Michael Jack, Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik and ITV marketing director John Hardie.

Pay: The standard graduate start salary this year is pounds 22,020. Rises are performance-based.

Training: A promote-from- within policy gives added edge to development programmes. Each is individually tailored to incorporate on-the-job, classroom and function-specific training. There's also a feedback set-up, an informal mentoring scheme and departmental meetings.

Facilities: Each site has a subsidised canteen. Weybridge boasts a lakeside and key shops and cashpoints. Gosforth is near to shops and nearby sports facilities include a gym and squash.

Who's the boss? Newcastle-based Chris de Lapuente is a vice president of the company, as is Mohan Mohan, based in Weybridge.