Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Investor Spotlight

August 27, 2019

Fortune recently announced its 2019 Change the World list, its annual ranking of companies that are using creative tools of business to meet society's unmet needs. In today's world of widening economic disparities and rapid digital automation, it's critical now, more than ever, for large companies to go beyond checking the boxes of "corporate social responsibility" and actually create solutions for sustainability and inclusive economic growth.

See which San Diego-based companies made this year’s list:

No. 1 Qualcomm: Turning faster connections into green gains
Why Fortune ranked Qualcomm as Number 1 on its 2019 Change the World list: The mobile-chip designer has been a leader in wireless tech since the earliest smartphones. Now it’s building chips for 5G connectivity, which promises speeds 10 to 100 times as fast as those of today’s phones. Already, phonemakers are using Qualcomm modem chips to power 5G-compatible devices. But the company will soon introduce inexpensive, low-power versions for smart devices and sensors that could have a profound impact on the planet. As such sensors become pervasive, cities will be able to monitor air and water quality in real time, farmers can avoid overwatering or overfertilizing crops, and self-driving cars will communicate with each other to avoid traffic jams and reduce emissions.

No. 12 Viasat: Connecting Latin America to the Internet, dirt cheap
Why Fortune ranked Viasat as Number 12 on its 2019 Change the World list: Satellite Internet service provider Viasat has been able to offer cheap online service from space to poorly wired parts of the world as the capabilities of its spacecraft have improved. Since lofting the school-bus-size ViaSat-2 satellite in 2017, the company’s reach has extended across Latin America. In Mexico, for example, a simple $1,500 receiver setup in a local shop can provide Wi-Fi across a wide area for as little as 50¢ an hour to users with cheap phones or tablets. So far, over 600,000 devices have logged on for Internet connections in Mexico. In July the state of São Paulo began working with Viasat to set up community Wi-Fi stations to provide connectivity in 20 underserved areas. Coming next: three ViaSat-3 satellites, with more capacity, reaching Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in 2021 and the Asia-Pacific region in 2022.

No. 35 Illumina: Lifesaving shortcuts in gene testing
Why Fortune ranked Illumina as Number 35 on its 2019 Change the World list: The genomic sequencing giant has managed to spur personalized drug development, help foster a revolution in at-home DNA testing, and even save critically ill newborns. The company has been at the forefront of making whole genomic sequencing not just cheaper (it now costs less than $1,000 to conduct such sequencing, as opposed to the $3 billion it cost to sequence the first full human genome—largely thanks to Illumina’s work over the past 20 years)—but also considerably faster.

That’s absolutely critical when it comes to saving newborns in the ICU suffering from rare genetic disorders, according to Dr. Stephen Kingsmore, the CEO of Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine in San Diego. “Illumina is involved in every step of delivering care for these sick babies,” he says. Kingsmore says that, thanks to Illumina’s technology and dedication to making whole genomic sequencing accessible, affordable, and fast, a critically ill baby can have his or her genome sequenced in as little as 20 hours—which means that child can have personalized treatment delivered within a matter of days rather than weeks, likely spelling the difference between life and death. The Rady Institute has already tested about 1,000 sick newborns with Illumina’s tech in the past three years (about half of them in the past 12 months).

Aira makes Fortune's "Ones to Watch" list.
Most of the companies on Fortune Magazine's 2019 Change the World list are large corporations with $1 billion or more in annual revenue, which helps them pay for and scale their efforts. So it created a "Ones to Watch" list, which ranks smaller companies that may not have the  financial means to make significant impacts (yet), but have made technological breakthroughs that can lead to even larger gains and social impact in the future. Featured at the top of this list is San Diego-based Aira.

Why Fortune names Aira on its Ones to Watch list: Aira makes life easier to manage for the visually impaired. The four-year-old start-up offers customers a pair of camera-wielding smart glasses and an app that allows users to connect with Aira agents, who offer verbal assistance while they go about their day—navigating errands or tasks at work. With several thousand users, Aira has evidence that it boosts quality of life and reduces the chances that a blind student will drop out of college, and the company says its technology helped more than 250 visually-impaired users get jobs. The National Federation of the Blind has signed on as a partner.

Check out the full rankings on Fortune’s 2019 Change the World List here.

 

June 28, 2019

Meet Kim Becker, President and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. Read the Q&A below to learn about Kim and her role in exposing more people to the San Diego experience.

What is your "day job"?

I’m President/CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, which operates San Diego International Airport. We employ about 9,400 people, who serve 24 million passengers per year. The airport provides the first and last impressions our passengers have of San Diego, so it’s our job to make it count, make it memorable, and create good feelings, nonstop.  I’m talking about an on-time arrival. A friendly San Diego smile. Intuitive wayfinding and helpful workers at every turn. Providing an authentic San Diego experience that is professional yet laid-back, efficient yet unhurried; and most of all, open and easy-going.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

Both EDC and the Airport Authority are focused on connecting San Diego businesses to the world. So there’s a synergy there that benefits the entire region. 

Favorite quote?

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” - Anonymous

What has been your life-changing moment? Something that changed the trajectory of your life for the better:

When I was younger, a former boss pushed a large responsibility on me that I felt I wasn’t ready for, nor did I feel that I “lived in that world.” My response was “Who, me?” and the boss said “Yes, you!”  I kept pushing back, all the while doubting my own ability, until my boss finally told me to “Just do it!” And I learned that when I was finally out of excuses, and I started to actually ponder the problem, I was able to rise to the challenge.

Marissa Mayer once said, “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that's how you grow. When there's that moment of 'Wow, I'm not really sure I can do this,' and you push through those moments, that's when you have a breakthrough.”

That’s how I live my life today.

What part of EDC interests you most?

 I really enjoy the San Diego: Life. Changing. campaign.

 

June 20, 2019

For our next Board Member Spotlight, meet Kathryn Lembo, president & CEO at South Bay Community Services (SBCS). Read her Q&A below, get to know Kathryn and find out why EDC’s inclusive growth efforts are something she finds most interesting.

What is your “day job”?
As CEO, my days are dynamic and filled with a broad cross-section of individuals throughout the county. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with residents and youth (many with no home) who share their crucial insight on challenges impacting everyday living and hopes for the future. It’s through their eyes that navigate my day in discussions with school, nonprofit, health, and business leaders as well as policymakers as we work together to build true measurable solutions that respond to our community’s challenges. Above all, it’s an honor to take an idea to inception with my dedicated team at SBCS and our regional partners by implementing evidence-based programs that are changing the trajectory of families and communities.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?
To grow San Diego’s innovation economy: This is something that will demand a diversity of voices contributing to the conversation. The economic vitality of San Diego County is also crucial to the well-being of families we [SBCS] serve, and thus, important for us to take part in developing a strong local workforce to benefit employers, economy and our population.

Favorite quote?
"Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning, the devil says 'oh sh*t, she's up!'"

We know San Diego is a life-changing place, what was your life-changing moment?
A couple of summers into my undergraduate studies in biochemistry, my father insisted I needed a summer job. He proceeded to find one for me – a job as a lifeguard at a home for girls in New York. I spent the summer getting to know these young women who had lived through and experienced some truly horrible situations. They taught me about resilience. Most all, I learned the importance of community in helping to build strong families. Even though their homes were scattered with issues like violence, poverty, and drug abuse, the girl’s dreamed and hoped of returning home to their families. The following school year, I changed my major and this experience was in part the reason for my professional journey.

What part of EDC interests you most?
I’m most interested in EDC’s inclusive growth efforts.

 

 

June 7, 2019

Meet Cheryl Goodman, head of corporate communications at Sony Electronics. Read the Q&A below, get to know Cheryl and find out why she is proud to have Sony Electronics’ North American headquarters located here in San Diego.

What is your “day job”?

Every day, in Corporate Communications for Sony, I unearth and translate the deep tech that makes press, employees, and the general public excited to have Sony products not only in their homes, but to have Sony Headquartered in their hometown—#HelloSanDiego. Working alongside Sony President Mike Fasulo, we are on the road nearly every week to talk tech from sensors, to standards, to 8K, to robotics, to Hollywood events at Sony Pictures or Sony Corp in Tokyo. Sony is a creative entertainment company with deep technology roots, and I’m fortunate to be able to illustrate how we move people emotionally though epic content & our best-in-class technology.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

EDC gathers relevant leaders surrounding key topics to make business move forward...and it’s fun. Summer Bash, anyone?

Favorite quote?

“Be the CEO your mom wanted you to marry.”

We know San Diego is a life changing place, what was your life changing moment?

Leaving a great paying job at a great company to start my own business in 2013 reconfirmed to me that the only limits in life are the ones we put on ourselves. I left because I didn’t like my title or future growth path, those things changed and so did my life.

What is your favorite EDC program or initiative?

San Diego: Life. Changing.

 

May 31, 2019

Meet Manuel Rodriguez, market president and commercial banking team leader at U.S. Bank. Read the Q&A below, get to know Manuel and find out how U.S. Bank’s mission aligns well with the work EDC is doing.

What is your “day job”?

As the San Diego market president and commercial banking team leader at U.S. Bank, I lead a team of experienced commercial bankers who are dedicated to providing financial solutions to mid-sized organizations. I lead the company-wide efforts and activities in San Diego County and chair the San Diego market’s charitable foundation committee, partnering with senior leaders from across U.S. Bank to best serve the community.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

EDC’s mission to maximize the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness aligns very well with U.S. Bank’s commitment of investing our time, resources, and passion in economic development by supporting efforts to create stable jobs, better homes, and vibrant communities. 

Favorite quote?

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin

We know San Diego is a life changing place, what was your life changing moment?

My life-changing moment was deciding to go to college 1,500 miles away from where I grew up, out of my comfort zone and in a city/state where I didn’t know anyone. This led me to my first job in banking, which then provided me the opportunity to live and work in many wonderful cities including San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Dallas. I was also fortunate enough to meet my wife (a native San Diegan) along the way, which ultimately led us and our four kids to relocate and make San Diego our permanent home!

What is your favorite EDC program or initiative?

There’s a lot going on at EDC, and I’m new to the board. However, I’m particularly interested in the Inclusive economic growth initiative.

 

May 24, 2019

Meet Tom Pellette, President of Solar Turbines. Read the Q&A below to get to know Tom and find out why a global company, like Solar Turbines, finds value in San Diego Regional EDC.

What is your “day job”?

As President, I am responsible for driving Solar Turbines’ strategic direction as we design, develop, manufacture, and service innovative energy solutions. Solar is a leading provider of industrial gas turbine generator, compressor, and mechanical drive packages. We provide best-in-class service support and connected product technology to drive value for customers around the world.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

As a global company that has been in San Diego for more than 90 years, Solar Turbines recognizes the critical importance of organizations like EDC to maximize the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness.

We know San Diego is a life changing place, what was your life changing moment?

Getting my first job at Solar Turbines. I have been fortunate to have a long, fulfilling career of 26 years both at Solar Turbines and Caterpillar, our parent company. For much of my career, I have been lucky to call San Diego my home.

What is your favorite EDC program or initiative?

All of the programs at EDC are important because of their ability to coordinate and represent corporate interests, from supporting international trade, to fostering local talent development, and maximizing economic prosperity to promote San Diego as a globally competitive region.

 

May 23, 2019

San Diego Regional EDC welcomes new investor Aerotek to its membership of more than 180 companies in the region. Headquartered in Maryland, this privately-owned staffing company has more than 230 integrated offices throughout the United States and Canada. They have had a presence in San Diego County for 25-plus years, currently operating out of San Marcos, Scripps Ranch, and Kearny Mesa. In 2018, Aerotek grossed $6.6 billion in revenue and they continue to maintain more than 100,000 active contract employees weekly.

Aerotek’s mission is to bring great people and great organizations together, which functions well in San Diego’s diverse and robust economy. This has also allowed them to serve many people throughout different professional industries. Additionally, Aerotek has benefited from San Diego’s deep talent base and strong economic prowess, and of course from the features that make San Diego so Life. Changing. From the beautiful beaches and Petco Park to Old Town’s rich and historic culture, it is easy to see why Aerotek chose to open offices in San Diego.

 

May 17, 2019

For the next installment in our Board Member Spotlight series, we are pleased to introduce Dennis Doucette, partner at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch, LLP. Read the Q&A below and get to know Dennis and how he effects San Diego’s economic development outside of his role as one of EDC’s board members.

What is your “day job”?

I assist in company forming, funding, and selling. As a corporate attorney, I help my clients realize their goals with efficient legal and business solutions. I have been fortunate to have worked on more than 400 transactions representing buyers, sellers, and investors.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

I have served on many for-profit and non-profit boards and look forward to assisting EDC in its mission to make San Diego a better place for all companies and their employees.

Favorite quote?

“It often requires more courage to dare to do right than fear to do wrong.”

- Abraham Lincoln

We know San Diego is a life changing place, what was your life changing moment?

Meeting my wife Margot and enjoying every day together.

What is your favorite EDC program or initiative?

Direct economic support to companies.

 

April 26, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For our next Board Member Spotlight, we are pleased to introduce David Andrews, president of National University. Read the Q&A below and get to know David, the work he is doing with National University, and why serving on EDC’s board is important to him.

What is your “day job”?

I have the privilege of leading National University, the second largest private, nonprofit university in the state. Having spent all of my career in higher education, it is very rewarding to run an open-access, adult-serving institution that is changing student’s lives and transforming the higher education sector.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

Economic conditions in San Diego are central to our ability to attract and retain talented faculty, staff, and students. As an open-access, adult-serving institution in California, we need to be at the table and doing our part to maximize opportunities for our students.

Favorite quote?

 “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.” –Albert Einstein

We know San Diego is a life changing place, what was your life changing moment?

My life-changing moment was when I found my wife, Marti, nearly four decades ago. All who knew me before meeting her regularly attest to the positive transformation she made in my life.

What is your favorite EDC program or initiative?

San Diego: Life. Changing.

 

April 19, 2019

For our next Board Member Spotlight, we are pleased to introduce Dan Broderick, who is Regional Managing Principal for the Southwest region at Cushman & Wakefield. Read the Q&A below and get to know Dan, the work he does for Cushman & Wakefield, and why he’s proud to serve on EDC’s board.

What is your “day job”?

At Cushman & Wakefield, I lead all of our commercial real estate services lines for the Southwest region - Brokerage (Occupier and Investor), Capital Markets, Asset Services, Construction Management, and Valuation & Advisory.  In San Diego, we are the market leader in the full spectrum of real estate services throughout the county, operating out of five offices with approximately 250 people in the region.

Of all the boards in San Diego, why EDC?

EDC exemplifies what is great about San Diego: our demographics, our talent, our resources, our community, and our culture. EDC is the intersection where information, politics, business, trade, and technology converge for the betterment of our region. It is the gold standard for collaboration and creating a cohesive vision for the future of our great home, San Diego.

Favorite quote?

“The choice isn’t between success and failure; it’s between choosing risk and striving for greatness, or risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity.” - Keith Ferrazi

We know San Diego is a life changing place, what was your life changing moment?

In 2010, I was asked to be the CEO of BRE Commercial, a 25 year-old San Diego firm. I will forever cherish the experiences and relationships I developed. Nine years later, we have achieved what we set out to do. We have become a premier global firm and a leader in the region.  We work with amazing people, who are talented, dedicated, driven, and leaders in the industry.  I am proud to work with all of them, and to be on this great journey together.

What is your favorite EDC program or initiative?

San Diego: Life. Changing.