Our excellent line-up of speakers and panelists includes:
Elizabeth Alexander is President of Nick Alexander Imports, one of Southern California’s oldest, privately owned BMW and MINI dealers. She assumed this role when her father announced his retirement in 2003 after 25 years at the helm. Nick Alexander MINI has been the largest MINI dealer in the United States four of the last seven years, and Nick Alexander BMW has been recognized by BMW North America as the top dealer in the United States for premium service customer satisfaction.
Ms. Alexander has served on several industry boards, including as chairperson of the BMW Dealer Advertising Board as well as the MINI Dealer Council, and as a member of the BMW Dealer Council. She also serves on the Board of the Weingart Center for Homelessness on skid row. Additionally, she is chapter chair of the Los Angeles Chapter of Youth Presidents’ Organization. She has also been an active fundraiser for Sandpipers, Lillian Street Elementary School, Hermosa Beach Education Foundation and St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood.
Ms. Alexander received a bachelor’s degree in urban planning and real estate development from the University of Southern California. Additionally, she is a graduate of the National Automobile Dealer Association’s Dealer Academy.
Senior Vice President, Sales
Bill Berman is responsible for new and used vehicle sales along with developing additional capabilities; and eCommerce and Sales Training.
Mr. Berman served as the President of the Western Region since 2008 and prior to that as the President of Western Market 5, which includes the Company’s operations in both the Bay Area and Roseville, California. In both of these roles, Mr. Berman has served a strategic role in growing manufacturer relationships and driving common processes across all stores. Through a successful twenty-six years in automotive retail, Mr. Berman has held almost every position within dealerships. His commitment to personal development and industry leading performance has allowed him to quickly climb the dealership organizational ladder and holding key positions in our dealerships in both Northern and Southern California. Additionally, Mr. Berman has held the key position of Region Used Vehicle Director. In this position, Mr. Berman was able to successfully mentor dealership General Managers and Used Vehicle Managers to drive exceptional used vehicle performance. Mr. Berman held this role for Markets in Northern California, Southern California, Washington, Arizona and Nevada.
Beth Ann Bovino
U.S. Chief Economist, Global Economics and Research
Beth Ann Bovino is the U.S. Chief Economist at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, based in New York. In this position, she develops S&P’s U.S. economic forecasts and authors the monthly U.S. Economic Forecast, the quarterly U.S. Risks To The Forecast, the weekly Financial Notes and the Weekly Economics Call. Beth Ann has created Industry Drivers reports for analyst research. She is quoted regularly in the press and has appeared on many major television programs. Further, she has written many articles for popular and professional publications.
Before joining Standard & Poor’s in February 2004, Beth Ann spent over ten years doing economic and market research with Sungard Institutional Brokerage, UBS Warburg, and the Federal Reserve.
The Wall Street Journal recognized Beth Ann as the most accurate forecaster of the U.S. economy in 2013.
Beth Ann holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in International and Development Economics from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University.
Senior Managing Director
John A. Casesa is Senior Managing Director of Guggenheim Partners, where he leads the firm’s automotive investment banking activities. He advises the auto industry’s leading companies, investors and governments in connection with strategic transactions including M&A and capital raising.
John was one of Wall Street’s leading auto analysts for two decades at Merrill Lynch and Schroders. His thought-leading research changed the way investors understood many aspects of the auto industry. In 1991 he created Car Wars, which remains a benchmark for measuring automaker product competitiveness. In 2000, Who Makes the Car presented a new framework for understanding suppliers. In 2005, Energy Security & Climate Change foretold the clean car revolution.
He was ranked as an All-Star eleven times by Institutional Investor magazine and helped write the New York Stock Exchange’s qualifying exam for analysts (Series 86).
Before joining Guggenheim he co-founded Casesa Shapiro Group, an advisory firm, and owned auto dealerships.
Prior to Wall Street, John was employed by GM.
John is Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Industry Agenda Council on Personal Transportation Systems.
He holds a B.S. from St. John’s University and an M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business.
Jerry Hirsch is a writer responsible for covering the auto industry for the Los Angeles Times and Tribune Publishing. His work is published nationally, both in print and online, in the Times, the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and dozens of other newspapers.
Previously, Mr. Hirsch covered the California energy crisis, including the financial troubles at the state’s power companies, the demise of Enron and the Arthur Andersen accounting firm. He has also covered the business of food, wine and agriculture as well as other business and economic topics.
Mr. Hirsch received a bachelor’s degree from UC Davis and a master’s degree from Northwestern University.
Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Automotive Operations
John Humphrey is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Global Automotive Operations at J.D. Power. He is the lead executive responsible for sales, strategy and operational management of the company's global automotive practice covering North and South America, Europe and Asia.
Previously, Mr. Humphrey was Senior Vice President of International Operations, with overall responsibility for the company's global activities in Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Canada, which includes offices in Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Toronto, London, Munich, Mexico City and São Paulo. He was responsible for strategic leadership and management in key global markets; establishing long-range goals and strategies; and coordinating all business and product development efforts covering the automotive, financial services, travel and telecommunication sectors.
Mr. Humphrey joined J.D. Power in 1989. From 2003 to 2008, he focused on the company's Asia Pacific business, most recently serving as Vice President and General Manager of Operations. He was responsible for the inception of the company's China operations, and resided in Shanghai for two years. He played a key role in further expanding J.D. Power's presence in the Asia Pacific region. Earlier, he was an executive in the company's Consulting Division. His primary responsibilities involved working with organizations to identify operational and process-related concerns, as well as consulting with clients on the development and implementation of strategies for sales and customer retention improvement. Previously, he was responsible for research and advisement services in the areas of product quality; long-term durability and reliability; customer satisfaction; and distribution strategies and operations.
Mr. Humphrey is a frequent contributor to automotive publications, and is often quoted on economic and industry trends in the United States and Asia. For many years, he was also a frequent contributor to The Power Report, J.D. Power's automotive journal, for which he provided analysis and insight into trends in the automotive market.
Mr. Humphrey earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Arizona State University and an MBA from Pepperdine University.
Executive Director of Driver Interaction and Human Machine Interface (HMI)
Kristin Kolodge is Executive Director of Driver Interaction and Human Machine Interface (HMI) at J.D. Power. She is responsible for developing a new HMI Practice at the company and monitoring customer insights, perceptions and behaviors of the consumers interacting with the technology in their vehicles and around them.
Prior to joining J.D. Power in 2014, Ms. Kolodge was senior manager of HMI and ergonomics at Fiat Chrysler. She spent the majority of her 18 years at the company developing automotive features that enhance the customer interface by optimizing ergonomics, intuitiveness and usability. She led the development of the vehicle HMI process that integrated human factors, ergonomics and cognitive analysis into actionable design direction. She also served as senior manager of product investigations and campaigns responsible for conducting technical investigations on products related to vehicle safety and compliance and making recommendations regarding potential field campaign actions.
Ms. Kolodge received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Michigan.
James E. Lentz
Chief Executive Officer, Toyota North America
Jim Lentz is Chief Executive Officer of Toyota North America; President and Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMA); and a Senior Managing Officer of parent company Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), located in Japan. He oversees all of Toyota’s North American affiliate companies, including TMA, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS), and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, North America, Inc. (TEMA), which includes responsibilities for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. (TMMC), and oversight for Toyota Canada, Inc. (TCI). Additionally, he serves as Chairman of the North American Executive Committee, comprising top leaders from the affiliate companies.
Earlier, Mr. Lentz was president and chief executive officer of TMS and senior vice president of TMA, and served in a global advisory capacity as managing officer for TMC. Prior to that, Lentz served as president and chief operating officer and executive vice president of TMS.
Mr. Lentz previously held several executive positions, including Toyota division group vice president and general manager, where he oversaw all sales, logistics and marketing activities for Toyota and Scion regional sales offices and distributors. He also served as group vice president of marketing for the Toyota division and vice president of Scion, responsible for the initial launch of a new line of vehicles designed for the next generation of new-car buyers.
Mr. Lentz spent several years in the field as vice president and general manager of the Los Angeles region, and prior to that, as general manager of the San Francisco region. Earlier, he was vice president of marketing services for CAT in Maryland. He has also held several other TMS positions, including field training manager, sales administration manager and truck sales team member.
In 1982. Mr. Lentz joined Toyota as the merchandising manager for its Portland Region, where he later became the distribution manager and field operations manager.
Mr. Lentz serves as Chairman on the board of directors for The Global Automakers and is a member of the executive advisory board for Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, his alma mater. Mr. Lentz earned a bachelor's degree in marketing and economics and a master’s degree in business administration—finance from the University of Denver.
Executive Communications Director
Director of Digital Marketing
Erick Marx is Director of Digital Marketing at Nissan North America. He is responsible for the strategy, planning and execution of various interactive marketing initiatives, including the NissanUSA.com B2C website, as well as all social media marketing and public relations for the Nissan division. He guides Nissan online messaging and brand stewardship through customer-facing and press-facing channels.
Mr. Marx has been with Nissan for more than 20 years and has served in a variety of roles across departments, including sales, marketing, distribution and research.
Mr. Marx received his bachelor’s degree from Occidental College and earned his MBA from the University of Michigan.
Chief Designer and Senior Design Manager
Christopher Rhoades is Chief Designer and Senior Design Manager at the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center. He is responsible for design, project and personnel management and general studio operations. He has led teams of designers and clay modelers on various concept cars as well as production vehicles.
Previously, Mr. Rhoades was senior designer and project manager in the Freightliner commercial truck division at Daimler Trucks of North America. He was responsible for both the exterior and interior dashboard design for the Cascadia truck family. Earlier, he was one of the two founding automotive designers at the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio in Sindelfingen, Germany.
Mr. Rhoades earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from the University of Washington and a bachelor’s degree in transportation design from the Art Center College of Design.
Tim Stevens, Editor at Large, CNET
Tim Stevens, Editor at Large, CNET
Global Automotive Industry Leader
Joe Vitale is the Global Automotive Industry Leader for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. In addition to this role, he serves as global lead client service partner for one of the largest automotive OEMs. He is responsible for delivering Deloitte's consulting, enterprise risk management, tax and financial advisory services to automotive companies worldwide. With more than 20 years of experience, he specializes in corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, supply chain optimization and new product development.
Previously, Mr. Vitale served as the manufacturing industry leader and automotive sector leader for one of the large regional markets within Deloitte LLP.
2014 Western Automotive Conference: Speakers
November 18, 2014 • Los Angeles, CA