SCN Hall of Fame 2019: Zane Au

Early in his career, like many in the AV industry, Zane Au traveled parallel paths that helped shape his work today. He earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering at the University of Hong Kong, where he grew up and still resides. He went on to study theater sound design at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, where he worked part-time for two years on theater productions.

Au considers himself lucky, but as you talk with him, you quickly realize he has an innate skill for sharing, which has benefitted many.

“I was lucky that I was given a part-time job at Shen Milsom & Wilke (SM&W) in Hong Kong when I was doing my part-time theater sound design,” said Au. “The Hong Kong office director at the time, Ward Sellars, was kind enough to let me do the engineering during the day, and, in the afternoon, he would let me do my theater work.”

Zane Au

In 1994, Au became a contractor. “I decided I needed to see a lot more if I was going to call audiovisual my career,” he said. “Those are the years I learned most of my trade.” Then Au catapulted into the cutting edge of the 21st century.

“I was given the opportunity to take care of all of the audiovisual systems installation at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre,” said Au. “At the time it was the single biggest audiovisual project in Hong Kong.” The facility was built for the 1997 handover ceremony of Hong Kong, which officially marked the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China. “Most of the AV technology had never been heard of before,” said Au. “It had fiber connectivity, which at the time was bleeding edge. For a young AV engineer, it was totally eye-opening.”

In 2000, Au went back to work with SM&W, Hong Kong. “My mentors, Ward Sellars and Fred Shen [founder of SM&W], taught me a lot and have given our industry so much.” Perhaps kindred spirits are destined to work together. “I was given the chance to do volunteering for InfoComm International,” which is now known as AVIXA, said Au. “It was to my benefit to start to contribute to the industry because it would help me meet more people, and get in touch with young people, end users, and technical managers who had never heard of InfoComm.”

In addition to being a member of the Board of Directors at AVIXA from 2014 to 2017, Au has contributed a great deal to InfoComm China, which launched in 2005. “When I am speaking on the stage for a show like InfoComm China, it is clear that this is not a just a U.S. or Western AV association—this is a global association,” said Au. “To me that means a lot—and to someone who is in the AV industry in Asia.”

Looking to the future, Au is passionate about sharing his knowledge. “First and foremost, I feel an obligation because I have been lucky to have seen a lot of things in the industry, and I would very much like to pass it along to the next generation of AV professionals,” he said. “Some things will simply not be applicable, but the practice and concept of AV delivery, the concept of AV consulting and integration, the importance of understanding the end user’s needs are universal and will always be applicable. If I can help younger AV professionals make fewer mistakes and get through that quicker than I did, I’m happy.”

Au considers himself lucky to have had a few very good mentors. “I hope that I can be one, too,” he said.

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Cindy Davis
Brand and content director of AV Technology

Cindy Davis is the brand and content director of AV Technology. Davis enjoys exploring the ethos of experiential spaces as well as diving deep into the complex topics that shape the AV/IT industry. In 2012, the TechDecisions brand of content sites she developed for EH Publishing was named one of “10 Great Business Media Websites” by B2B Media Business magazine. For more than 20 years, Davis has developed and delivered multiplatform content for AV/IT B2B and consumer electronics B2C publications, associations, and companies. From 2000 to 2008, Davis was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House. From 2009 to present, as the principal of CustomMedia.Co, Davis developed content plans and delivered content for associations such as IEEE Standards Association and AVIXA, content marketing for Future Plc, and numerous AV/IT companies. Davis was a critical member of the AVT editorial team when the title won the “Best Media Brand” laurel in the 2018 SIIA Jesse H. Neal Awards. A lifelong New Englander, Davis makes time for coastal hikes with her husband, Gary, and their Vizsla rescue, Dixie, sailing on one of Gloucester’s great schooners, and sampling local IPAs.