Adam Romanov: the Canadian in the BDE

We spoke with Adam Romanov, vice president of the Global RE Group. A native of Toronto, he studied at Sciences Po during a year on exchange. In this interview he discusses his time in Paris, reflects on a career that has allowed him to explore different fields, and offers advice to Sciences Po students. 

What program did you complete at Sciences Po? And what was your experience like in Paris?

I completed the Diplôme International as an exchange student from the University of Toronto.  Despite only spending one full year at Sciences Po in Paris, I quickly became especially involved in student affairs and culture, mainly in my role as a member of the Bureau des Élèves (BDE). I lived in a student residence on Avenue Victor Hugo composed of students across all disciplines attending various grandes écoles throughout the city. As the only non-French citizen living at the student residence, my year in Paris was one of comprehensive immersion, which certainly elevated my overall experience and enabled me to develop deeper ties to Parisian society and France more broadly. To this day, the friendships and experiences I forged while a student at Sciences Po have had a more meaningful and lasting impact on both my career and life in general relative to the balance of my undergraduate years.

What brought you to the United States?

My initial relocation to the United States from my hometown of Toronto was prompted by a role working for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN. My studies at Sciences Po influenced my decision to pursue a career in multilateral government affairs on the global stage, resulting in roles working for both the U.S. Department of State in Canada, as well as the Canadian Government in the United States, culminating in a role hosting the American delegation for the G8 and G20 Summits held in Canada in 2010.

Describe your line of work. What do you enjoy most about your job? What's the most challenging thing about it?

I have since pivoted my focus from the realm of politics and diplomacy to finance and investment, specifically real estate development, although I find that my diplomatic experience continues to serve me well in the context of my existing career path. As a real estate investment and development professional, I enjoy interfacing with a multitude of disciplines and professions each day, running the spectrum of architects, engineers, lawyers, accountants, government officials, bankers, consultants, designers and construction professionals. Shaping the built environment, and therefore participating in the creation of the social fabric of our cities, is an exciting and enjoyable process that is both a significant responsibility as well as a privilege. The challenges of balancing multiple competing interests, across a vast array of disciplines, often spanning both the private and public realms, results in an endless series of complex cost-benefit analyses to be navigated, with the ultimate intent of creating an environment that most positively reflects how people wish to work, sleep, eat and live.

In what ways did Sciences Po prepare you for your career?

The exposure to great professors, big ideas, and a world class student body, left an indelible mark on me and my educational journey. The time I spent working in the foreign service was in part influenced and shaped by my experience as a student at Sciences Po. Furthermore, my multilingual education enabled me to take on roles multilateral in scope, enabling me to explore an international context to my career, irrespective of industry. This transnational education has led me to my current role, helping build the real estate investment and development arm of a family office, Global RE Group. Our first major development is a hospitality-anchored, mixed-use project in the heart of Charleston, South Carolina. Our investment mandate spans North America and Europe, so it is my hope to return to France by sourcing a suitable acquisition opportunity. Finally, beyond career preparation, I also met my wife on the first day of class at 27 Rue Saint-Guillaume.

Any advice for current Sciences Po students and young graduates?

As someone who graduated with a degree in biology, transitioned into a career in international relations, and subsequently pivoted into finance and investment, it is safe to say that there is no single path to success. I often say that everything in life comes down to time and effort. With the latter of the two a variable over which we have control, it is the best bet. Sciences Po is a place where the more effort one puts in, the greater the dividends, so my advice would be to leverage the resources and exposure that Sciences Po offers to learn as much as possible, because knowledge is something that can never be taken away. Paris, and Sciences Po specifically, is also a great place to have fun, and if the BDE is anything how I remember, the epic parties are not to be missed.
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