What does it do?

Servier Laboratories is the British subsidiary of the French pharmaceutical company of the same name, which was founded in 1954 in Orléans, as a family-owned provincial chemist with just nine staff. Now there are more than 17,500 employees worldwide, with annual sales approaching £2bn. The UK operation is divided into three divisions: managing drugs trials together with hospitals and GPs; research and development of new products; and sales and marketing.

Its main products focus on cardiovascular conditions, diabetes and osteoporosis, the medicine for which, Protelos, is among Servier's most prominent products. Company literature stresses a concentration on "ethical" pharmaceuticals, a phrase suggesting, perhaps, a swipe at competitors for their "unethical" products. The explanation, though, is not half as intriguing. "Ethical" is industry-speak for prescription medicines, rather than the over-the-counter stuff.

Vital statistics

This is a growing company. Of the 650 people employed in the UK, 100 were taken on last year. More than half the employees are sales reps.

The office

Servier's UK headquarters and laboratories are at Wexham Springs, in Buckinghamshire, close to several other big pharmaceutical names around the Thames valley.

Is this you?

Fifty graduates are taken on every year, bound for roles ranging from clinical research and medical sales, to support functions such as finance, IT and personnel. All applicants need a degree in one of the life sciences, and what Servier calls a convincing pattern of success in life to date.

The recruitment process

Recruitment is takes place throughout the year. First step: look on the website, www.servier.co.uk, for current vacancies, and send an application for a specific post, with your CV, to recruitment@uk.netgrs.com. If your credentials match the basic job requirements, you'll have a first interview, normally with a member of the recruitment team. Second interviews are with your potential line-manager and head of department, and, occasionally, there's a third interview, held in Paris. Sales reps attend a six-week residential training course, covering NHS structure, anatomy and physiology, disease areas, Servier's and competitors' products, and, of course, sales techniques. After this, it's out into the field for the sharp-end training from regional managers. Graduates in head-office and laboratory-based positions received tailored training to match their roles.

Top dollar?

All Servier says is it offers a competitive basic salary, plus benefits, and performance-related incentives for some roles, including sales.

Beam me up Scotty?

Servier is big on internal promotion. Last year nearly a quarter of UK staff were promoted into management roles and the sales force turnover rate, at 13 per cent last year, is low for the industry.

Who's the boss?

Dr Eric Falcand is the CEO of the UK operation. He joined the company in 1997, having spent time at Servier's French and Russian offices.

Little-known fact

Servier's first research lab in the UK was in a cinema building in Harrow, believed to have been haunted.