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Paul Breloff ’06
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- Paul Breloff ’06
A Lifelong Learner
Growing up in a small town in upstate New York, Paul Breloff never could have expected where his career would eventually take him.
Breloff — who lives in Nairobi, Kenya and is the CEO and Co-founder of Shortlist, a talent advisory and technology company providing recruitment and youth employment services across Africa — has spent his career building businesses aiming to expand economic opportunity, including in fields such as microfinance, social enterprise, and impact investing.
“The central thread has always been trying to make business a force for good, not evil – looking for ways capitalism and creativity can make peoples’ lives better,” said Breloff.
From an initial stint as an advertising account executive to eventually founding a leading talent startup, Breloff’s career has taken him on many paths all over the world. He’s launched numerous businesses in education, energy, and financial inclusion; invested in dozens of startups across Asia, Africa, and Latin America; drafted mobile banking regulations for the World Banks; and even briefly practiced corporate and real estate law. In addition to his current role at Shortlist, he advises several impact investment funds, family offices, and startups across Africa.
“I’ve found that staying agile and learning-obsessed has made my career ever-varied and ever-fun, and has given me the confidence to navigate unknown terrain – new sectors, new markets – and know I’ll figure it out,” said Breloff. “When it comes to work and life, there’s simply no substitute for just diving in and trying it out.”
Today, Breloff leads a team of people who, since the firm’s founding in 2016, have helped 900+ companies and 1,500,000+ jobseekers across 30 countries. Despite the challenges that can come from managing so many people from different backgrounds and cultures, Breloff enjoys finding common ground with his colleagues.
“I’m drawn to figuring out the differences of culture, that hidden layer of values and behaviors that shape our work and life contexts. It is often invisible until you find yourself somewhere new and you realize, ‘Oh, this is different,’” said Breloff. “I’ve become a student of culture. I’ve studied and love reading on social psychology, leadership , and history, and have learned so much through traveling and work in many parts of the world. Now, I run a company with teammates in Kenya, Nigeria, India, Philippines, the U.K., and the U.S. – and it’s a thrill to try to make sense of everyone and get us all working together as one team.”
Breloff credits his time at Yale Law School for instilling in him the courage to take the road less traveled, despite some of the risks and uncertainty.
“At no time before or since YLS have I been surrounded every day with such brilliant and ambitious people,” he said. “Though intimidating, this pushed me to expect more from myself. It raised my aspirations beyond the more clear and obvious career paths, and provided a foundation to jump into the unknown, to work on hard problems, and to embrace a nontraditional path towards impact and growth.”