Romano Prodi received his law degree at the Catholic University of Milan and completed postgraduate work at the London School of Economics. He began his academic career at the University of Bologna in 1963, where he served as professor of political economics, industrial organization and industrial policy until 1999. He has also held research and teaching positions at the Lombard Institute of Economic and Social Studies, Stanford Research Institute, Free University of Trento, Johns Hopkins University SAIS Europe, and Harvard University. In 1981, Prodi founded Nomisma, the largest Italian institute of economic studies, whose scientific committee he chaired until 1995. During his academic and institutional career, Romano Prodi has been awarded a number of recognitions and he also holds various honorary degrees.
Prodi entered politics in 1978, when he was appointed the Italian Minister of Industry. From 1982 to 1989, he served as Chairman and CEO of the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI), at the time Italy's largest public holding company. Under his chairmanship, IRI underwent a far-reaching reorganization, embarking on a process of change and preparing its subsidiaries for privatization. Prodi was called back to the helm of IRI in May 1993 and successfully saw through the privatization of a number of industrial, banking and service companies.
In 1995 Prodi founded the "Olive Tree" centre-left coalition, which designated him as its candidate for premiership. The coalition won the 1996 election and, in May 1996, he was appointed Prime Minister. He remained in office until October 1998. The measures introduced by his Cabinet enabled Italy to meet the Maastricht criteria for joining the Euro zone.
From 1999 to 2005 Prodi served as President of the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union. During his presidency, the euro was successfully introduced; the Union was enlarged by 10 countries from central, eastern and southern Europe; and the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe was signed.
In the 2006 parliamentary elections in Italy, Prodi again led the center-left coalition to victory, and again became Prime Minister, serving until May 8, 2008.
Prodi is currently President of the Foundation for Worldwide Cooperation. From 2008 to 2014 was Chairman of the United Nations-African Union High-level Panel for Peacekeeping in Africa. From February 2009 to December 2013 he was a Professor-at-large at Brown University (USA) and since 2010 he has been a professor at CEIBS (China Europe International Business School) in Shanghai. From October 2012 to January 2014 he served as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel.
Romano Prodi is also a long-standing member of the SAIS Europe Advisory Council.