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In the realm of quantitative trading and hedge fund management, few names resonate with the innovation and influence wielded by Jaffray Woodriff. On a recent episode of “The Stream“, our knowledge transfer series that showcases the fascinating people behind the pitch decks in the our community, host Edouard Robbes peels back the layers of Woodriff’s persona, revealing not just a financier but a polymath who intertwines his varied interests to fuel his professional pursuits. This deeper dive into his life and thoughts unveils a figure who is as multifaceted personally as he is pioneering professionally.

Woodriff’s journey into the sport of squash isn’t just a tale of a hobby; it’s a metaphor for his approach to life and work. His discovery and subsequent love for the game underscore a theme of curiosity and the willingness to embrace the unknown—a trait that has undoubtedly contributed to his success in the unpredictable world of finance. “This game must be the perfect game. And man, it’s fun,” Woodriff mused, a sentiment that could easily apply to his adventurous foray into quantitative trading.

His commitment to advancing education, particularly in data science, speaks volumes about his belief in the power of knowledge and innovation. Woodriff’s vision led to the establishment of the School of Data Science at the University of Virginia, a testament to his determination and foresight. “I had convinced the University of Virginia to start a 12th school…the School of Data Science,” Woodriff shared, highlighting his role as a catalyst for educational progress.

Beyond his contributions to education and his achievements in finance, Woodriff’s engagement with machine learning and algorithmic trading illustrates his deep understanding of and respect for the evolving technological landscape. His insights into the enduring patterns within markets, despite the rapid development of computational trading strategies, reveal a thinker who appreciates both the constants and changes within his field. “The patterns have changed enormously,  at the smaller timescales…but the longer term patterns…haven’t changed that much,” he observed, bridging the gap between historical market behaviors and current trends.

The formation of a dedicated research team after years of solo exploration is perhaps one of the most poignant reflections of Woodriff’s evolution. Transitioning from an individual contributor to leading a collaborative team effort underscores his growth as a leader and his recognition of the power of collective intelligence.

Jaffray Woodriff’s conversation with Edouard is more than an interview; it’s a window into the soul of a man who has made it his life’s work to challenge the status quo, to invest in the future of education, and to continually seek out the next frontier in finance and technology. Through his journey, we see a person who embodies the spirit of innovation, the dedication to making a tangible impact, and the perpetual quest for knowledge. For those drawn to the intricacies of finance, technology, or the enduring quest for personal growth, the full conversation offers an invaluable glimpse into the mind of one of the industry’s most influential figures.

Watch Jaffray's appearance on The Stream


About the Guest
Jaffray Woodriff is CEO & Chief Scientist of QIM, which he co-founded in 2003. He has over 30 years of experience developing quantitative trading systems. Jaffray guides the firm’s broader research efforts. He and the research team are responsible for the innovation and improvement of all QIM’s models and techniques that underlie the firm’s predictions, risk management, and trading. In 2000, he and Michael Geismar co-founded DHR LLC., an equities investment program. From 1998 to 2000, he served as a director in the Treasury department, trading proprietary funds in futures, currencies, and U.S. equities for Société Générale. In 1994, Jaffray founded Woodriff Trading as a CTA, managing client money until 1997. He also served as head trader for Blue Ridge Trading from 1991 to 1994. Jaffray graduated from the University of Virginia in 1991 with a BS from the McIntire School of Commerce. The University of Virginia’s School of Data Science was funded by a major donation from the Quantitative Foundation, where Jaffray serves as a trustee. Jaffray is an avid squash player, and has been honored with a U.S. Squash Special Recognition Award for his leadership and substantial contributions to squash in the U.S.A.

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