I was so molded by the American school and the culture: from sports, social dynamics, and the education system as a whole, that no other place would have allowed me to feel like I fit in naturally
|11 Jan 2016|
|WM Winter 2016 edition|
WM: Bobo, please tell us a little bit about your educational journey
BD: I am a product of AISB, having started my first day of education in pre-school in 1994 and graduating from grade 12 in 2008. Post-AISB, I attended Columbia University in the City of New York, graduating in 2012 with a Major in Financial economics and a Concentration in Business Management from Columbia Business School. I then focused my academic experience towards Real estate, obtaining a Master’s degree in Real estate Development from New York University. I chose to attend school in the U.S. because I was so molded by the American school and the culture: from sports, social dynamics, and the education system as a whole, that no other place would have allowed me to feel like I fit in naturally.
WM: What would you say is your educational philosophy?
BD: Accompanying my studies, I always believed in practical experience, and finding what you love to do. I think internships and seeking a learning experience by doing to discover what you like to do specifically are very valuable as even within the same industry there are so many options and unique vantage points that you can only truly discover through a practical application of your skills. I don’t think people should spend too much time discovering, though. There is a great start-up mantra of “fail fast, fail often;” though I’ve learned from athletics that you can never really fail at something as long as you make progress and refine your skillset from the lessons and experiences learnt.
WM: How has your education shaped what you are doing now?
BD: Having recently returned alongside the family company as Development Director at Bog'Art, the role could not have been better crafted. I think I was bred to do what I do – I remember early on in elementary school at AISB, I was given the assignment “design your dream home.” From what I had seen at home, I showed up with thorough architectural plans: a birds-eye view, diagrams for doors, labels on rooms… the works. My parents were notified at the upcoming parent-teacher conference that it was unfair to the other students who had drawn beautiful perspectives in color that I be helped on assignments given the resources I had at my disposal. But I hadn’t received help; my father glanced over my project and replied: “I’ll have to have a talk with him, the corridor is way too long and the bathroom has the wrong proportions to the bedroom.” This is the type of dynamic I had from early on, and it was the norm for finding what I really loved to do, without the pressure of it being imposed. I went through this process by venturing into different roles for my work experience, starting wit banking during my time in college: I spent a summer doing Corporate Finance for Eastern Europe in Vienna, and another with Asset Management at a Romanian Bank; both were not what I expected my career to be, in that I felt that the learning I was so excited about was awfully tedious in terms of the day-to-day banking work. Aside from the shiny building and the suit, I really just enjoyed the shiny building part – so that’s what I followed. I wanted to be in a place that was so dynamic and diverse that it would serve as a learning experience in itself. The City where I went to school became the subject matter. All of the things I learned served me well in being able to absorb new information; I commend the advantages of a well-rounded liberal arts system. During my time in New York, skyscraper city called for me to really uncover the universe of buildings, so I applied for a New York State Real estate Salesperson License, which put me in the center of the action as part of the Development Marketing and Residential Sales Team of the highest performing agency in Manhattan. I was feet on the ground and very connected to the pulse of the city and the look and feel of the end-user. This helped me learn sales and interpersonal relationships, as well as the dynamics of a city in motion. The experience helped me learn how to talk the talk, walk the walk, and hustle, but it did not challenge analytical thinking as much as I would have liked it to. I tried to go through the design path to really understand what buildings ought to be about, interning for an international architecture firm from a non-architect role, by bridging planning and cost estimating with scenic renderings and floor plans to create offering books and memorandums ranging from small commercial and residential projects to large institutional projects in the US and europe. I also had a brief stint at a U.S. Commercial Real estate Finance firm alongside which I compiled and marketed creative financing solutions for commercial, mixed-use and residential projects of $2-$100M to potential debt and equity sources. This cumulus of differentroles helped me learn how to interact with and speak the language of lenders, designers, contractors, developers, brokers, and investment management companies across the entire spectrum. I firmly believe that not knowing enough about every aspect of a business and sitting on either side of the table to put it all together can be dangerous.
WM: What challenges did you face returning to Bucharest and how have these translated into the work that you do for your company?
BD: With my return, I worried, how do I fit in. I had the privilege of designing my own role that mixes a start-up feeling of initiative with the balance of a tightly coordinated corporate structure. My title would read “Development” as the representative of the next generation that takes it to the next level on multiple heights. Growing as the face of the organization in a newly crafted public relations role that combines sales and marketing with investor relations, my role is both Business and Real estate Development. Specifically, my activity oversees the development of the company's own portfolio of assets as well as new investment opportunities. I coordinate a range of activities from deal structuring, acquisition, highest-and- best use land analysis and project feasibility studies with investment proforma cashflows, project management, planning and budgeting, as well as execution monitoring and oversight.
WM: What projects are you currently working on?
BD: I am recently involved in a 5,000 sqm residential project in a very central location, near Cismigiu Park, and for this year I have sourced new projects that will be funded with the launch of a private-equity investment fund leveraging the Bog’Art brand name to focus on our own mixed-use development in urban in-fill locations in Bucharest.
WM: What advice would you give to current AISB students looking to follow their career dreams?
BD: Students and young professionals won't know how to anticipate the satisfaction or frustrations of a job unless they go out and actually do it. Try it and see how it feels, otherwise you may find out later on that it wasn't what you expected, or there was another way you could have better applied yourself, your unique skill set and personality – even within the same profession. Make it your own experience and surround yourself with people and places that will push you to grow. Your greatest satisfaction will be your ability to take a walk through your dreams.