Fast Track: A-Z Of Employers Imagination Ltd

Rachelle Thackray
Thursday 27 August 1998 00:02 BST

Age: 20

History: The company was founded in 1978 by the current managing director Gary Withers and, since then, the group has built its reputation on creating and managing spectacular events, environments and experiences. It employs more than 200 creative, technical and management experts to work under one roof in central London. Communications planning, retail and leisure design, project management, television production, films, multimedia, touring shows and theatrical events are all part of Imagination's remit, and its clients include Ford, Ericsson and Cadbury.

Address: Headquarters are in Store Street, London WC1. The Imagination building was designed by Ron Herron and a spokeswoman fetes it as "one of the great buildings of contemporary architecture"; the design has indeed won several prizes, including the Riba National Architecture Award. The HQ's fabric roof is stretched across two buildings, with a light, airy atrium spanned by elegant steel bridges: overall, a rather nice place to work. The group also has a satellite office in

New York.

Ambience: There are fluid project teams, and much emphasis is placed on teamwork. Divisions between specific design and communications disciplines are broken down in some cases. A spokeswoman claims that there is a "unique approach", with the company's breadth of in-house resources leading to a "vibrant atmosphere". She adds: "Friendships are encouraged by the open- plan office and firmly forged in the company bar after hours." Christmas parties are, apparently, legendary.

Vital statistics: Turnover three years ago was pounds 44m, and rose to pounds 52m in 1996/1997. Imagination was also ranked number one design consultancy in Marketing magazine's 1998 Design League Tables.

Lifestyle: There is an opportunity for employees to clock up air miles, as the company works on an international scale. A spokeswoman says: "An enlightened attitude means that movement between departments is possible, with people being able to progress and enhance their skills quickly."

Easy to get into? Last year, the group hired 74 new members of staff, with many graduates among them. CVs are kept tightly filed, and talent scouts are out and about, searching for new talent. Attitude, experience and skills are more crucial than formal qualifications, says the company's spokeswoman.

Glittering alumni: The company says that it can name none - it manages to keep all its bright sparks, it claims.

Pay: There is no set starting salary for graduates; all the company will say is that pay is performance-related.

Training: Training is provided according to the needs of the individual employee, and it is usually on the spot rather than being a regimented graduate induction or across-the-board course. "Imagination is not afraid to give employees responsibility and believes that more is learnt with guidance on the job than in training centres," says its spokeswoman.

Facilities: The group's rather trendy restaurant serves high-quality food during the day and turns into a wine bar in the evenings. There are also a gym and a rooftop terrace for employees to enjoy when they have a spare half-hour. The Imagination Gallery at the top of the building is available for commercial hire.

Who's the boss? The creative supremo and Imagination founder Gary Withers is the company's managing director; the chairman is Len Heath.

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