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 Val Azzoli 

Co-Chairman & CEO
Atlantic Recording Corp.
Seneca College, Ontario, Canada

When he attended a large, urban high school, Val Azzoli — whose leadership at Atlantic Records makes him one of the most powerful people in the music industry — was always "30 seconds away from quitting formal education." After selling men’s suits for a year, he concluded, "I want to do more in life than this."

The three years he spent at Seneca getting his associate degree in business administration were "a grace period" during which he learned the basics of commerce and figured out what work suited his personality.

His entree to the music business occurred later when a friend asked him to manage a club band. Though he had no experience in this field, he quickly mastered the organizational details and liked it so much he made musical management his full-time occupation.

During the next 20 years, he moved up the music-industry ladder first in Canada and then in the U.S. Along the way, Azzoli found he had a "God-given gift" for identifying unknowns who would be stars, including Hootie and the Blowfish, Tori Amos, and Jewel.

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