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Looking Back on 2006 With a Watchful Eye Toward 2007

The San Diego Business Journal asked local executives for their thoughts on what occurred in 2006 and what may happen in 2007. Here are their comments:

Name: Donald E. Felsinger.

Company, titles: Sempra Energy, chairman and chief executive officer.

Biggest lesson learned in 2006: Leadership, good business strategy, disciplined execution and top-notch employees (Sempra has 14,000 worldwide) are still fundamental to success.

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Biggest challenge to overcome in 2007: Having the collective courage to make the tough decisions on the solutions needed to solve our regional and domestic energy concerns.

The key/essential factor to success in 2007: Be smart, do your homework and have great leadership and employees.

Business New Year’s resolution: Enhance Sempra’s presence in the markets where we do business.

Business fad you hope gets left behind: The focus on short-term earnings reports.

Business fad you hope to see take off in 2007: Growing interest in modernizing and expanding energy infrastructure for future generations.

Companies to watch in 2007: Those that have the ability to anticipate the future, and the discipline to execute their business strategies.

Economic outlook for 2007: Favorable. Low inflation should spur interest rate cuts, helping to grow the economy. Weather and the Middle East are still key variables in the energy business.

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Name: Michael Gallegos.

Company, titles: American Property Management Corp., president and CEO.

Biggest lesson learned in 2006: It is important to have many lender relationships because at some point every lender will hit their limit on lending to a particular real estate asset class.

Biggest challenge to overcome in 2007: Rising cost of construction materials, which impedes new hotel development.

The key/essential factor to success in 2007: Delivery of high levels of guest services.

Business New Year’s resolution: Inspire and motivate a dynamic team.

Business fad you hope gets left behind: Rooms for free if the customers are not 100 percent satisfied with their experience. We in the hotel business just want the opportunity to correct any deficiency during the guest’s stay.

Business fad you hope to see take off in 2007: Online hotel check-in (similar to online airline check-in).

Companies to watch in 2007: Digital Orchid Inc. and Wireless Facilities Mexico.

Economic outlook for 2007: Continued, but less boisterous, growth, especially if the Federal Reserve does not raise interest rates.

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Name: Kevin Alexander.

Company, title: Gordon & Rees LLP law firm, managing partner.

Biggest lesson learned in 2006: Always be looking for talented attorneys and staff; you can never have enough.

Biggest challenge to overcome in 2007: Sleep deprivation (courtesy of my 15-month-old daughter).

The key/essential factor to success in 2007: Ensuring that our clients succeed in their legal matters.

Business New Year’s resolution: Double the amount of time visiting with clients face-to-face to stay on top of changing business needs.

Business fad you hope gets left behind: City pensions investing in risky hedge funds.

Business fad you hope to see take off in 2007: Fads are not a good thing to hope for.

Companies to watch in 2007: Gordon & Rees (of course!); Extreme Pita (fast-food franchise new to San Diego); AstroLeap Inc. (developer of location-based services for mobile devices that provide coupons on cell phones); Science Applications International Corp. (will strengthen even more so as a public company).

Economic outlook for 2007: Most companies and the stock markets should perform well. Homeowners will continue to face flattening or lower home prices. Clean-tech and environmentally friendly energy companies are early in their growth cycle.

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Name: Scott Salka.

Company, title: Ambit Biosciences, CEO.

Biggest lesson learned in 2006: Having the right team in place is everything when it comes to successfully managing growth.

Biggest challenge to overcome in 2007: Proving that the growth we experienced in 2005-2006 is sustainable.

The key/essential factor to success in 2007: Further establishing Ambit’s technology as essential to discovery productivity at our partners’ organizations.

Business New Year’s resolution: To respond to all my correspondence (e.g., e-mail, voice mail, letters and text messages) in a timely fashion.

Business fad you hope gets left behind: Ridiculous use of the word “diversity.” As in anything can be made good or better simply by attaching the word “diversity” to it.

Business fad you hope to see take off in 2007: Honesty is the best policy.

Companies to watch in 2007: Amylin, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Qualcomm and, of course, Ambit.

Economic outlook for 2007: I’m optimistic. I have a feeling 2007 will be a good year for biotechnology and health care.

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