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Stephen E. Roulac, Ph.D., JD, CPA, CEO Roulac Global, LTD., Tiburon, California

Professor of global property strategy
University of Ulster, North Ireland 
By Chris Manning, Loyola Marymount University

Stephen Roulac never had a chance to be a “normal” very accomplished academic or entrepreneur. Born in 1945, the eldest of five children, of a mother that attended Columbia Business School and father, Harvard Business School, Stephen’s very competitive nature goes back two generations to one grandfather who was a successful Southern California real estate entrepreneur in the early 20th century and another (with a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton and law degree from George Washington) who was an international economist who advised Chiang Kai Shek in China and helped design the Central Bank for Saudi Arabia.

Stephen’s own competitive high achiever nature was evidenced as far back as 1959 at age 13 when he became the youngest person ever, at that time, to run in the 6.9 mile Dipsea Race from Mill Valley over Tamalpais to Stinson Beach (which places are North of San Francisco. This was Stephen’s first visit to Mill Valley in Marin County after his Mom and Dad relocated to Pasadena North of Los Angeles in 1945 to build the Roulac Construction Company. Stephen’s memory at age 13 of entering Mill Valley, after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge for this race, impressed him so much that he returned 11 years later in 1970, (after completing his MBA at Harvard) to make a home for the global reach of his teaching, writing, and real estate entrepreneurial businesses.

While at San Marino High and the Thacher School in Ojai (1959-1963), Stephen’s competitive nature found an outlet, winning track and cross country championships that led to his being captain of the Pasadena Athletic Association team that won the 15-kilometer road running national championship in 1965. In addition to athletics in high school, Stephen was involved in the debate team, public speaking and journalism. In 1960, at age 14, he founded the Pacific Coast Distance Running Report, a subscription publication that he published and edited for three years.

Stephen’s “real estate career” started with accompanying his Dad to job sites for meetings with subcontractors of the Roulac Construction Company. It wasn’t long before Stephen’s Dad had his son “cleaning up” different parts of his construction sites. The reach of his family’s San Gabriel Valley construction business grew during the 1950s and 60s by building luxury homes in San Marino, commercial/retail in Pasadena (to include a regional shopping center), numerous bowling alleys, and even the Chevron Gas Station across from Disneyland. By the time he completed his freshman year at Pomona College in 1964, Stephen had already organized and served as foreman on a labor crew of 20 mostly younger workers his own age for the family construction company. While at Pomona College, he was elected to the College Council (the College’s student governing body) and Commissioner of Athletic Affairs. By 1967, the year Stephen graduated from Pomona College with a BA in Economics (and many accounting courses), he was working a couple days a week on apartment leasing and management.

To earn money while working on his MBA at Harvard Business School (graduating with distinction in 1970 with the George Baker Scholarship), Stephen taught accounting and management at Northeastern University in Boston. While at Harvard, Stephen was elected Chairman of his first-year class section and a member of the Student Association Board (the governing body of the school).

When Stephen returned to California later in 1970 to begin work on his Ph.D. in Strategic Management/Finance at Stanford he supported himself teaching accounting and management classes at California State University, Hayward (1970 – 71), in Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (1970-79) and later in Cal Berkeley’s Dept. of Architecture, College of Environmental Design, and School of Business (1972-78). In 1971, Stephen became the founding editor of Real Estate Syndication Digest, an information research service (a precursor of Morningstar focused only on real estate securities), and a year later in June, 1972, founded the Roulac Group.

By the time Stephen completed his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1978, he had also completed his JD at the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall – 1976), while teaching both at Cal Berkeley and the Hastings College of Law (1977-78). He briefly taught for the UCLA Graduate School of Management in 1984. Since 1978, Stephen has been on the faculty at the University of Ulster.

In 1967, Stephen faced his major life decision of whether he should seek to compete on the U.S. Olympic marathon team or devote more time to his entrepreneurial endeavors. Electing the latter course ultimately led him to competitive cycling and racing in USCF Masters criterium, road and time trial events. After winning his first bicycle race in 1989, Stephen was named to the U.S. National team to compete in the Soviet Union Masters Cycling Championships held in Minsk in 1990. In 1992, his last year of competitive bicycle racing (he says: “for now”), Stephen won three of his last four races.

Stephen’s firm, Roulac Global Places, LLC, has offices in San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Hyderabad, India (the largest office with some 75 professionals) and Cluj Napoca, Romania. Earlier, Stephen built the real estate consulting practices of two of the four remaining international accounting firms. A profile in the Professional Services Review observed back in 1989 that “based on his business success, his unmatched academic foundation, and his ground-breaking contributions to the direction of the industry, in a sense, you could say Stephen E. Roulac invented the strategic side of the real estate business as we know it today.” Among Stephen’s many awards he is most proud of have been honored with the ARES Grasskamp Award in 1997, ARES Richard Ratcliff Award in 2005, and the UC Berkeley Fisher Center Millennium Real Estate Honoree Award in 1999 for being among the 100 individuals who have had the greatest impact on the real estate industry in the 20th century.

With Stephen’s intense competitive drive and leadership, the Roulac Group’s consulting engagements have created some $10 Billion of value for clients since 1972. In more recent years, through investing in the best publicly traded property companies in the world, Stephen’s Roulac Global Places Fund has averaged in excess of a 42% annual rate of return for the four years eight months ending 12/31/07, ranking it in the top 1% of hedge funds.

Stephen’s prolific writing and publications, that number more than 350 articles and 20 books, have made significant contributions to the real estate discipline in many areas, pioneering new thinking in real estate by framing problems, issues and directions in new ways. Not only has Stephen identified and defined many areas within the real estate discipline, he has also changed the way real estate is perceived and practiced, successfully melding his iconoclasm with both theory and industry practices. In addition to his having won numerous manuscript competitions (including 10 ARES best manuscript awards) his research productivity and impact has been recognized often as among the top three real estate academics in the world.

Stephen has dedicated his professional association energies to serving the American Real Estate Society, where he has been a fellow for fifteen years, is presently a member of the editorial boards of all five ARES journals, served as special issues co-editor (with Chris Manning) for a pair of Journal of Real Estate Research special issues on corporate real estate (1999 and 2001), and also edited the ARES Research on Real Estate monograph volume on Ethics in Real Estate published in 1999. Stephen has been Chair of the ARES Board’s Strategic Planning Committee for the last dozen years since serving ARES as its President in 1995-96.

Stephen’s personal interests include the arts, antiquarian books, collecting building miniatures, reading, health and fitness, competitive sports—specifically bicycle racing—and outdoor activities. In addition to his continuing study of anything related to entrepreneurs, investing, and real estate decisions, his enjoys learning about the ancient wisdom traditions of indigenous cultures, and recent scientific and behavioral advances in learning and communications technologies.

Stephen and his wife, Olivia, live North of San Francisco, in a romantic house on San Francisco Bay, whose first occupant was the engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge. They especially enjoy taking their two borzois for long walks and attending the performing arts (particularly modern dance, theater and opera). Stephen’s son lives in Manhattan and works in finance on Wall Street and his daughter lives in Marin County.

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