BT couldn't believe its luck when gap-year student Lisa Neal turned up for a 12-month work placement before heading off to Leeds University to study computer science and music. The 18-year-old from Rugby was placed in the department handling wayleave surveys, the process that enables BT to instal telegraph poles and other equipment on private land by paying landowners for access. The telecoms giant was aware its wayleaves operations needed an overhaul, but had never tackled this longstanding problem. However, Lisa - who was paid £165 a week after tax - soon got stuck in. She familiarised herself with the wayleave process, then spearheaded a reorganisation of BT's systems that ended up saving the business a cool £2 million. So much for photocopying and making the tea.
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