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  • This fortnightly podcast from the World Economic Forum features the world’s top changemakers, showcasing the habits and traits effective leaders can’t work without.
  • Igor Tulchinsky, the CEO of quantitative investment firm WorldQuant, explains why he founded an online university with a tuition-free masters to upskill some of the smartest people around the world in data and tech.

"Talent is distributed uniformly," Igor Tulchinsky likes to say. "Opportunity is not."

Igor Tulchinsky understands opportunity. The CEO and founder of quantitative asset management firm WorldQuant emigrated to the US from the Soviet Union in the 1970s. The move gave him a chance to eventually tackle subjects like finance and computer science that might have been harder to pursue otherwise. These opportunities helped lay the groundwork for his career and later efforts as an entrepreneur.

Tulchinsky knows the importance of education in opening doors and ensuring mobility. His own team - one he calls 'quantitative explorers' - includes those trained as physicists or mathematicians, all using data and technology to seek out new insights and develop financial strategies.

The need for those with high-level quantitative and data-driven skills is growing at faster and faster rates, however. As Tulchinsky explained: "Data is growing exponentially, but people are really not growing exponentially."

As a result, Tulchinsky founded a special accredited online university - WorldQuant University. The non-profit school offers a tuition-free financial engineering masters, a multidisciplinary programme that straddles tech and data science and can train people from around the world for sought-after, well-paying careers. The university, founded in 2015, has seen 600 graduates so far and the masters is the largest of its kind in the world.

Tulchinsky talked to podcast Meet the Leader about building WorldQuant University, the lessons it learned along the way, and the need for education to keep pace with innovation. As he chatted, he explained why leaders need to challenge themselves and experiment, seeing no result as truly final.

"Obstacles are nothing more than just information," said Tulchinsky. "It's just data showing you what else you need."

Learn more about Tulchinsky - as well as the principles he lives by and the book he recommends - in the latest episode of Meet the Leader.

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