Lisa Kaz, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Auto Show and Connected Car Expo, on what to expect at this year’s edition of one of the world’s largest auto events
The Los Angeles Auto Show made its debut 108 years ago, back in 1907. For exactly one quarter of that time, Lisa Kaz has been driving the event forward, serving as president and CEO of the three-day event, which traditionally attracts nearly a million auto enthusiasts. Prior to this year’s edition, which takes place November 20–29 (the Connected Car Expo is held November 17–19), Kaz took a few moments to detail her lifelong affinity for the motor vehicle.
CSQ At what age did your interest in cars accelerate?
LISA KAZ My grandfather was in the auto show business for more than 50 years … in Los Angeles [as well as] Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, and Houston. I attended many auto shows throughout the years, starting as a young child. So, my connection to the auto industry goes much deeper than an interest in cars. It’s part of my family history and has played an important part of my life.
CSQ How did you get involved in ANSA Productions and ultimately the LA Auto Show?
LK Interestingly, the Auto Show came first, followed by my love of technology. My two loves finally came together a few years back with the creation of LA Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo – a trade show that focuses on the convergence of technology and the automobile. This convergence continues to not only shape and evolve the automotive industry – it also fuels my excitement for it.
CSQ Tell us about the growth of LAAS since you became president and CEO 27 years ago.
LK Since 2006, when we changed our dates to November, the LA Auto Show has become one of the auto industry’s most important global media stages for news and product reveals. In the past three years, the LA Auto Show and its automotive tech event, the Connected Car Expo, have become the auto industry’s new most-influential trade show, [attracting] technology titans like AT&T, Intel, Qualcomm, Pandora, and many others that are helping shape the future of transportation.
CSQ The Connected Car Expo made headlines when you introduced it back in 2013. How do you and your team continue to evolve the expo?
LK LA and California in general have always been considered innovation hubs. So it wasn’t difficult to realize that the convergence of technology and the car was taking place in our own state. We knew as early as 2010 that focusing on this type of innovation should be part of the show’s DNA. Automakers already valued our show for focusing on forward-looking design and groundbreaking alternative fuels, but now, with the Connected Car Expo, we have really embraced an entirely new industry that resides primarily in our backyard. We want to be the authoritative gathering where real business gets done and the biggest news is broken on a global media stage.
CSQ When building out the LAAS each year, how do you strike a balance between entertainment and content?
LK The LA Auto Show is really two shows in one with two distinct audiences. The first three days are a trade show and it is clearly content heavy. However, networking is a critical part of doing business, so we make sure there are many opportunities to have fun, be entertained, and develop quality relationships with industry peers. For our 10 consumer days, everything should be fun and entertaining; this year we are really pushing to enhance the fun factor of the show.
CSQ How are you continuing to innovate the space and the content to ensure attendees keep coming back?
LK As a show, it’s up to us to enhance the experience beyond the automaker displays. This year we have some all-new features and even more exhibitors that will make the show significantly different. Given that we take up the entire convention center, we decided to move our box offices and several functions outside the center to make room for a lot more displays.
CSQ How would you describe your leadership style?
LK We have a great team with a clear vision that knows how to execute. I like to not just empower, but push everyone at all levels to try news things and take risks. And if a new idea is on strategy with the company’s vision, I’ll invest in that idea and do what it takes to make it a success. Like the industries we support, I expect continual innovation and like to think I cultivate an environment that fosters that spirit.
The LA Auto Show takes place November 20–29, preceeded by the Connected Car Expo November 17-19, at the LA Convention Center. / laautoshow.com