United Parcel Services offers recruits one incentive high above its many other benefits: if they perform well they can own the company - well, part of it at least. Managers at what must rank as one of the largest private companies in the world own company shares and are eligible for a proportion of annual profits. As a policy, UPS supports internal promotions. Even recruits beginning at the bottom of the corporate ladder have a good chance of moving on to management level. 'Before we go outside, we look to see who has the necessary skills within the company,' said regional human resources manager John Valerie. 'But, with new technology, there are occasions when we have to go outside for certain expertise.' UPS began in Seattle in the United States in 1907 with six cyclists used to deliver parcels. The company now has 335,000 employees and operates in more than 200 countries with its own fleet of aircraft and road vehicles - the largest package distribution company in the world. Based in the US Olympic city of Atlanta, UPS moved 3.1 billion parcels and documents last year with revenue amounting to US$21 billion. The company set up in Hong Kong in October 1988. It operates six flights a week from Kai Tak airport, has a fleet of 100 vehicles in the territory and employs 600 staff. It has offices in Tsim Sha Tsui and cargo facilities at Kowloon Bay and Kai Tak. Richard de Souza, UPS country manager for Hong Kong, said future prospects for Hong Kong and the region were exciting. He said UPS had obtained approval for three joint ventures in China, one of which had already been established in Beijing. 'For Hong Kong Chinese and Singaporeans with good language skills, there are opportunities for high-level positions in China,' Mr de Souza said. UPS is also expanding operations in Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines and has just opened a regional hub in Taiwan. 'The buzz words are outsourcing and downsizing and they are making a lot of people unsettled,' Mr de Souza said. 'But, when we relocated to Singapore in 1992, we pulled it off without layoffs. There is no fear that we will be relocating again. 'We have long-term investment in the Asia-Pacific region.' Opportunities within the company in Hong Kong and the region exist in every department, including operations, accountancy, information technology and human resources. A lot of emphasis is placed on training and educational advancement. 'People are encouraged to learn about the total products and services of the company, not just their own department,' Mr de Souza said. 'As far as opportunities are concerned, there is vertical and lateral advancement. We like to move people through different departments. 'At UPS, providing job security, training, opportunities for advancement, a platform for the sharing of ideas and a solid financial future is an integral part of how the company conducts its business.' There is a strong emphasis on supervision, assessment and feedback. Every new employee takes an orientation course to allow he or she time to learn the company's philosophy and policies. Employees are initially given a smaller workload and assigned a supervisor who personally trains them. This phase lasts about a month during which time the employee is eased into his or her job while the supervisor continues to coach and correct. Courses and training sessions are routine and higher and further education encouraged and often paid for by UPS through the company's study grant scheme. 'Courses are provided to develop people skills and job specific skills,' Mr de Souza said. 'Other training is not necessarily for the jobs they are doing today but for what they want to be at UPS. 'A good number of people holding senior management positions today rose up through the company.' Mr Valerie said between 12 and 17 per cent of those management positions were filled by women, highlighting the company's commitment to equal opportunities. UPS offers a number of monetary incentive schemes and awards to recognise set goals and achievements. There is also opportunity to relocate to other centres. Employee benefits include membership of a provident fund, medical and dental payments which cover the employee's family, insurance schemes and death benefits. Annual leave starts at three weeks and progresses to six.