Al Lomas has 30 years of experience in hospitality and the exhibitions and events industry and is a jack of all trades. Al is currently the Conference Operations Manager for Connected Car Expo (CCE) at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Over the course of his career, Al has managed more than 600 annual events at the Municipal Auditorium, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Lila Cockrell Theatre, HemisFair Arena and Alamodome. Al has also been a principal for Certified Consulting Services for over 10 years, consulting others in meeting planning, public events, exhibition logistics and security requirements for major events.
Al teaches CEM courses for IAEE across the U.S. and also teaches internationally in Azerbaijan, Canada, China, South Korea and Taiwan. His areas of expertise are Risk, Security & Crisis Management, Strategic Planning & Management, Conference & Meeting Management Principals, Facilities & Site Selection and Event Operations. Al has also “Trained the Trainer” to IAEE CEM Faculty in 2012-2014 and was also CEM Commission Chairperson in 2013.
IAEE spoke with Al Lomas and dug a bit deeper as to why he joined the exhibitions and events industry and how the CEM Learning Program has helped shape his future.
How did you become involved in the industry?
It began with outdoor events in parking lots and eventually moved into indoor venues.
What are your responsibilities in your current role?
I work part-time and pick and choose the work I accept. I work security management at major events, work four months on the Connected Car Expo for the LA Auto Show through execution, consult for a national security company and teach CEM.
What drives your involvement with IAEE and the CEM Learning Program?
I enjoy teaching the current and future generation of industry professionals entrusted to my care. I tailor my presentation to each specific class based on the demographics, experience and job titles represented in the room. As far as IAEE, it has helped me in my career development; and it is my turn to give back to IAEE.
When did you become a member of the CEM faculty?
I became a member of faculty immediately after earning my designation in 2006 at the urging of Amy Dutton, the CEM Manager at the time. I never considered teaching until Amy told me others could benefit from my experience.
What was your most memorable experience from teaching?
Learning from John Plescia, when I did my internship under his guidance, my first time out. John was, and continues to be, an inspiration to me. When I walked the CEM stage he handed me my certificate and later I followed in his footsteps to become CEM Commission Chairperson.
Do you have any advice for other CEMs who may want to start teaching?
I never considered teaching until Amy told me I possessed a unique skill set and array of designations valuable to the CEM Learning Program. If you have experiences to share and enjoy working with people, it is a very rewarding experience. You will get better as time goes on.
What are a few of the benefits of teaching CEM?
The major benefit of teaching CEM is all intrinsic. I learn from the individuals in class and have a better understanding of what it might be like to work for a non-profit, association, or corporate entity. The best reward is when a student experiences an epiphany of understanding the subject matter or a concept during the class. Don’t do it for the money, because if you tally up the hours spent in preparation, developing handouts, travel and on-site you might be disappointed.
How has the CEM designation helped you in your career?
All of my designations (CMP, CMM, CFE and CEM) have helped me be better informed when I make decisions. I branded myself with certification and each certification made me a more valuable asset to the organizations I have worked for.
We all unconsciously make decisions based on our experience, education and intellect. CEM has given me the education to make better informed decisions in the planning stages of an exhibition. CEM has also been extremely helpful to me in making major decisions on-site during the execution when we, as the organizer, are responsible for the education and safety for all of the participants involved in our events.
Are you involved with any other committees or boards with IAEE or another industry association?
My focus now is on teaching CEM. I have always been involved in the education of others. I have served on the MPI CMM Advisory Board (two years), ten years as an MPI THCC CMP Study Group Leader, four years as the MPI THCC Director of Education, three years on the IAVM ICCC Planning Committee and served four years on the CEM Commission including Chairperson in 2013.