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Why This  CEO Tied the Company’s Profitability Directly to Student Outcomes with Tom Dretler, CEO & Co-Founder at Shorelight

Photo-Tom Dretler
Tom Dretler

Episode Summary

In this episode, Michael Hainsworth sits down with Tom Dretler, the co-founder and CEO of Shorelight. Founded nearly a decade ago, the company matches international students with universities in the United States, and helps them succeed socially and academically. During the episode, Tom shares how he had to go back to school—metaphorically speaking—when the pandemic collapsed demand for international education opportunities in 2020. He also explains why the economic downturn that followed  has led Shorelight to revisit the way it plans on funding its future. 

Episode Notes

Tie profitability to your mission

When Tom and the team were first conceptualizing the idea for Shorelight, they knew they wanted their goal to ultimately be helping students successfully graduate and begin their careers. As a result, when they began designing their business model, they decided to walk their talk by tying their profitability directly to student outcomes. That way, they were constantly measuring themselves as a business driven equally by mission and profit.

What you do is important, but who you do it with is more important

Understanding the value of building the right company culture is crucial for any business leader. Tom mentioned that while he was a student at Harvard Business School, the Dean of the school took the time to have a coffee with him and he told him something he’ll never forget: what you do is important, but who you do it with is more important. With a 91% Glassdoor rating, it’s clear that Shorelight lives by this maxim on a daily basis.

CIBC Innovation Banking is a trusted financial partner to entrepreneurs and investors. Get in touch with our team at cibc.com/innovationbanking.

Show Contributors: 

Tom Dretler


Michael Hainsworth


CIBC Innovation Banking