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Speaker Biographies
Date: 07/11/2002 Location: Stirling Management Centre
Chairman: Ms  Alison Loudon
Speaker: Mr  Tasos Symeonides  Mr  Donald  Maciver          

Originally from Cyprus, Tasos was educated at Glasgow University graduating with Honours in Computing and a MSc in Statistics.  His career developed as a Systems Analyst for Borroughs (now Unisys) and then at the Royal Bank of Scotland.  He moved to NCR as a Project Leader followed by a three year post for the Commercial Bank of Kuwait.  On return to the UK he became a Project Manager for John Menzies and worked his way up to become Head of IT for Retail Systems.  Tasos was responsible for introducing John Menzies' first Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) systems throughout the store network.  It was at this time that Tasos spotted a gap in the IT Help Desk and Service Management market - paper based systems predominated and a computerised system to automate information management was a distinct need. Ailsa and Tasos met in 1977 when Ailsa was working for the Bank of Scotland during her gap year.  Six weeks later they were engaged.  Ailsa's career plans changed in 1978 with the birth of their first son, followed by another son and daughter over the next few years.  Whilst Tasos worked for the Commercial Bank of Kuwait, the whole family moved to Kuwait and Ailsa Studied with the Open University. 1988 saw the joint decision to take the calculated risk for Tasos to leave John Menzies and set up Axios Systems Limited.  Whilst Tasos developed the assyst software with his wife, Ailsa marketed the product.  The hard work of exhibitions, events, advertising and mail shots paid off with the first sale in 1990 and since then the company has gone from strength to strength. Today, Tasos is the Managing Director of Axios Systems Limited and still plays an active role in the development of new software releases.  Ailsa now oversees all sales and marketing activity for the UK, The Netherlands and Germany. Since 1988 the company has grown organically with an expanding customer base.  In 1995 Axios Systems moved into the present world headquarters building in Walker Street Edinburgh, followed by the opening of the Dutch operation in early 1999. Today, Axios Systems Limited employs 100 people with offices in Edinburgh, The Netherlands and Germany and has a turnover of £4 million with profits of £2.5 million.  A blue chip customer base throughout the UK and Europe include One2One, Ernst and Young,  National Australia Group, Rabobank, Scottish Equitable, Ministry of Defence, The Scottish Office and the European Commission.  Expansion plans continue with offices in the USA and France.

Donald Maciver MSc is Managing Director of the Gael Quality group of companies based in East Kilbride. Born and bred in Lewis, he came to Edinburgh at 16 to train in electronics with Ferranti's, before moving to Unisys in 1985. The turning point in Donald's business life came with the closure of the Livingston plant in 1992. He decided that his future would be better in his own hands and set up Gael Quality to provide software to assist companies manage the bureacracy of ISO 9000. Today, that same Q-Pulse software is used in more than 5000 companies across 60 countries. Gael Quality won the Lanarkshire Small Business Award in 1998 and Deloitte & Touché Fast 50 awards in 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002. In January 2001, Gael launched Ygnius - a software application to enhance organisational creativity, productivity and agility using the concept of MindMapping in close integration with MS Office. Ygnius has been sold in over 100 countries to date utilising a combination of Internet, Corporate and Partner sales models. Microsoft Corporation used Ygnius to support their "work smarter" theme in the UK launch of Microsoft Office XP. Donald puts his success down to a mix of good old-fashioned Scottish ethics coupled with a few entrepreneurial traits. Vision, hard work, dogged determination and loyalty to staff has enabled an opportunistic culture to evolve within Gael. This together with a zero debt policy provides the framework and backbone to develop products of international appeal. His ambition is to make Gael a global brand within 3 years - recognising this can only be achieved in collaboration with appropriate partners.

The Evening Exchange is being Chaired by Alison Loudon. Alison qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Thornton Baker before joining Aldus at its inception, later Adobe. Through hands-on involvement and through investing in a number of companies Alison has worked tirelessly to help new creative entrepreneurs achieve their potential. Alison is currently Chairman of Data Discoveries and Visual Thinking and Non-Executive Director of IntroNet Applications and the Scottish Exhibition Conference Centre.  In addition she is a member of the LINC and the Business Forum and has served on the board of community bodies such as Edinburgh Leisure. Through her involvement with initiatives such as Entrepreneurial Exchange, Connect and previously the Science Institute for Enterprise she hopes to bridge the gap between good hi-technology ideas and delivery of successful businesses. Alison was involved as one of the business advisers to Wendy Alexander's review of the Enterprise Networks and programme of RSA grant funding. Previously Alison helped found Aldus Europe Limited and during the late 80's and early 90's, grew the company by establishing seven European subsidiaries with a turnover of £65 million. A successful merger with Adobe Systems Inc. created the third largest Software Company in the world. During 1995/98 she assisted a number of businesses in various market sectors, to complete turnarounds. Alison has close relationships with a number of funders including venture capitalists, business angels and government authorities. She represents the interests of 3i, SEP and the Archangel Investment Group in various enterprises. Alison has fulfilled her desire to help companies to be successful with her experiences of "scars from battles fought and won"! "Nothing", she says, "prepares one for the challenges of developing a technology based product; of moulding the management team, finding a route to market, implementing a 'scaleable' business, whilst enjoying the maze of fundraising."

Download Taso's PowerPoint presentation (4MB) from the event


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