At the forefront of science, industry

Neil Azous
Neil Azous. courtesy photo

By Douglas Esser
For a student project in a University of Washington Bothell business class in 1996, Neil Azous looked into how early entrants to the internet were generating revenue. One surprising finding was that the band, The Grateful Dead, was making millions of dollars selling T-shirts and hats online. In another class, Azous recalls a guest speaker whose company had built goggles that plugged into software for one of the first virtual reality experiences.

“One of the exciting parts of Bothell at that time was you had the ability to combine business with the growth in the technology sector in the mid-1990s,” said Azous, who received his Business Administration degree in 1997 with a concentration in innovation technology management.

That entrepreneurial spirit at the forefront of science and industry is what Azous valued about UW Bothell as a student in the early days of the university when only a few hundred people were attending classes in a Bothell business park.

Staying on the forward edge of transformation is what Azous, now a member of the UW Bothell Advisory Board, wants for students today.

A top brand university

Azous grew up in Bothell but came to the university by way of Singapore where his father was working when Azous graduated from high school. He started college at a private university and transferred to UW Bothell for his junior and senior years.

“UW Bothell provided me with an opportunity to go to an institution with a top brand,” he said.

After graduating, Azous packed a bag, put a bunch of resumes in a briefcase and bought a plane ticket to New York. “Then I blindly walked around New York City and knocked on the doors of 15 banking institutions, looking for a job,” said Azous. “Seven or eight of them didn’t let me in the door. Seven or eight did let me walk around and introduce myself.”

Defying the odds, Azous met with the firm Goldman Sachs, which hired him five days and 55 interviews later. With tenacity, determination and being in the right place at the right time, he landed in “the pre-eminent training program on Wall Street.”

Trained in investment banking, asset management, sales and trading, Azous traded credit derivatives for Goldman Sachs until 2001. He spent the next decade working in other financial companies, increasing his skills, building credentials and developing relationships.

An entrepreneurial school

Coming from an entrepreneurial family, Azous always had a mind to start his own business. He did that in 2013 by founding Rareview Macro, a research firm, and then in 2016, starting Rareview Capital, a registered financial advice and investment company. Both are based in Stamford, Connecticut. As the chief investment officer, Azous manages money in publicly traded mutual funds and individual accounts.

“I view UW Bothell as an entrepreneurial school,” Azous said. “That never really left me. It was just a matter of time for me being able to figure out how to work for myself.”

Azous also thinks of himself as a regional liaison for UW Bothell. He regularly meets with 15 to 25 business students on spring trips in New York City.

For those students, looking for their first jobs as he once did, he gives a presentation on the recruiting process at financial institutions, trends in the marketplace and “where I think they can be impactful.”

At the forefront

“I try to let people know banks aren’t just about the sales end or the revenue generating end,” said Azous. “They’re extremely dynamic organizations that have all sorts of things going on — operations, risk management, finance, IT and cybersecurity. You name it, there’s something going on.”

As an East Coast member of the UW Bothell Advisory Board, Azous brings an outsider’s perspective with roots in university’s early days. He said the things that appealed to him as a student make the university stand out for students today — “the latest technology, latest curriculum, latest advancements, latest tools that allow you to succeed.”

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