A-Z Of Employers: Mars

Behind that world-renowned name, however, is a giant multinational business, with a string of instantly recognisable brands, including Snickers, M&M's, Twix and Maltesers. Also in the mix these days are savoury products such as Uncle Ben's rice and Dolmio sauces, along with pet foods, including Whiskas and Pedigree.

The global Mars umbrella shelters numerous different trading divisions, and in Britain, the lion's share of business is done by Masterfoods UK. All becomes clearer after a five-minute trip around the main website (www.mars. com), which stresses that the company remains a family-owned business, started by Frank and Ethel Mars in their own American kitchen in 1911.

Vital statistics:
It takes 39,000 employees on 140 sites in 65 countries to run a business that turns over nearly £8bn every year.

The office:
Three thousand people work at eight sites in the UK, spread around the Thames Valley, East Anglia, the Midlands and Yorkshire. The global HQ is in Virginia, United States.

Is this you?
Up to 30 graduates are taken on every year in the UK, spread around commercial roles, engineering and research and development. A strong academic background is viewed as an entry ticket for consideration, rather than a deciding factor. Beyond that, Mars looks for independence of thought, dissatisfaction with the status quo and a desire to constantly evolve.

The recruitment process:
The selection journey starts with online tests, to confirm that you have the required levels of verbal and numerical reasoning, and moves through interviews and an assessment centre, where you're set a combination of individual and group tasks.

Training lasts up to three years and is split into at least two internal placements. Mars encourages all new trainees to get stuck in, make mistakes and learn for themselves. In addition, there are formal training courses for specific purposes, with line managers and mentors constantly on hand to ensure that time is spent reflecting and reviewing performance. Geographical mobility is essential.

Top dollar?
Salaries start in the £25,000 to £27,000 bracket, but no mention is made of free access to Mars products!

Beam me up, Scotty?
Successful trainees are automatically promoted at the end of their chosen development programme. Your progress will be helped by the extent to which you've used your mobility during training to build a network of contacts.

Who's the boss?
Fiona Dawson has recently been appointed MD of the Masterfoods Snackfood division in the UK. She joined the business in 1989.

Little known fact:
If John Betjeman's friendly bombs ever did fall on Slough, there'd be a lot of chocolate in the debris. The Masterfoods factory there makes three million Mars bars every day.