5 mins with: ASI founder, Maree Lowe

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This article appeared in the May, 2010 issue of CRN magazine.

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5 mins with: ASI founder,  Maree Lowe

What do you do at ASI?
I'm primarily involved with the sales and marketing side of the company. This brings me into close ties with customers and these vary from resellers to vendors and government/education agencies.

How long have you been doing this?
For the past 25 years. My husband Ken and I started the company in the 1980s. My role has changed and expanded over the years, with the company's expansion. We've been able to hire some clever people for key management positions and other roles who I can rely on.

How often do you review where the company is going?
Every four or five years we stand back and think about what's next for the company. Either we take a deep breath and say, "Things are cruising along," or we look at what we have to do to transform the company. But we can't stand still and we are always renewing the company every four or five years. It takes extra investment but normally Ken and I agree with what we need to do and say, "Let's do it".

Is it difficult working with someone you are married to?
It's our entire life and it has worked very well for the past 25 years. My reasoning is that Ken and I have complimentary personalities. [Laughs] We've morphed into one - it's very sad but we eat and think the same. We'll go out to dinner and even order the same thing on the menu. We also supplement each other's business skills.

Do you think working with other family members is a good idea?
Over the years we've been very open to working with not only family members but also with contacts and friends. We are quite conscious of having a flexible approach when it comes to working with family. I suppose I have to say there's not been a downside and the upside is when a family member has needed employment we've been able to sort out something for them because we have diverse areas of employment.

With ASI commanding so much attention what does that do to your social life?
It's very absorbing work and we've worked very hard, which has left our business and social life entwined. We've got vendors and associates who've become very close friends. We also work hard at balancing our working life with social events. We have a boat that we like to take out on the weekends and often we invite vendors, customers, associates and anyone who wants to come along. We have to find some new victims to take along soon.

Besides working with family what are the other perks to working in IT?
The travelling, Ken and I love it. Between us we've visited over 50 countries - although I cheat and count two-day conferences.

What have been some memorable trips?
One was going to an Intel conference on one of the islands in China. We didn't know there were two different airports and we ended up arriving on the wrong side of the island with no money. A taxi drove us in pitch black darkness to our destination. The other one was a trip with LAN and Nortel to New Orleans and New York where I was the only female and they all treated me like a guy.

Is there anything the channel doesn't know about you?
I trained to be an opera singer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. I've also sung in the Chorus of the Australian Opera and I use to tour the clubs. When international acts came out I would pull on the sequin dress to sing back-up for them. However, I gave up one love for another when I became pregnant with my oldest child.

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