Alumni Spotlight – Ryan Severino, CFA (COL 1997)

When I arrived at Georgetown, I was sure that Japanese would somehow be part of my future, even though I was not sure exactly how I intended to use it. Unfortunately for me, I started studying Japanese in high school around the time that Japan’s financial bubble had burst and their economy was stagnant throughout most of the 1990s. Though I was undeterred, there were far fewer professional opportunities to use my Japanese upon graduation than I had hoped when I entered Georgetown.

Consequently, I turned to my next academic love, finance and economics. I spent the early stages of my career gaining experience, obtaining my CFA Charter, and getting a master’s degree in international finance and economics from Columbia University. During this time, I fell into commercial real estate, and I specialized in research. I spend my time today working as an economist, researching the global economy and real estate markets, including Japan.

When I am not building models or writing papers and articles, I do a lot of media interviews and I am often speaking at conferences and presenting to clients. It is great to be considered an expert in my
field. On occasion, I am able to use my Japanese in a professional context when presenting my views on the economy and markets. We have a number of Japanese clients and though I am not nearly as adept at using Japanese as I once was, it still is beneficial, even if just to break the ice.

I still hope that I might put my Japanese to greater use someday – old dreams die hard – but I am always happy to have any chance to speak it, even socially. I am in the process of teaching my older daughter how to speak Japanese. I do not know she will stick with it, but teaching her has been an amazing experience.

Nonetheless, people are always impressed by my pursuit of Japanese. The assiduousness and perseverance required to become proficient at Japanese is not lost on anyone, especially those who do not speak the language. From job interviews to meeting senior officers at large firms, having studied Japanese never fails to make a great impression. My ability to still speak Japanese so many years after graduation, even though I do not speak it as often as I would ideally like, is testament to how amazing the Japanese program at Georgetown is.