In December 2007, Sarah-Michelle Mills graduated from Ashesi with a degree in Business Administration. Exactly a week later, she started work as Ashesi’s first Alumni Relations and Development Officer. In her role then, she helped tell the Ashesi story to a global audience while managing partnerships that generated resources to build phase one of the university’s permanent campus.
According to Sarah-Michelle, telling Ashesi’s story was a rare honour – “we were building an institution that was changing the face of education in Africa, and I got to contribute to it by writing and telling its stories.”
“It never felt like work,” says Sarah-Michelle who wrote her first book (which didn’t quite take off) at age 10 and was President of both the Writers’ and Debaters’ Club and Student Council at Aburi Girls’ High School. “Developing compelling narratives is second nature to me – I was working with a completely switched on team and I was having the time of my life.”
Reflecting on Experiences at Ashesi
As an alumna, Sarah-Michelle continues to be a firm believer in Ashesi’s values. However, when she initially applied in 2003, her plan was to spend a semester at Ashesi and move on to pursue other opportunities. But that first semester was unlike anything she had experienced. “From school-assigned classics in Text and Meaning to more contemporary writing for African Philosophical Thought, my imagination was sparked and my mind, blown. I was having a learning revolution.”
“I remember our Pre-Calculus professor always coming to class with freshly baked muffins and iced tea, which he made himself. He wanted us to like math and apply logical reasoning to everything. I began paying attention to how everyone around me used math in their day to day actions. Over time, I started to enjoy math and I would go to sleep each night excited about the next day of school.”
After establishing the Alumni Relations Office at Ashesi, Sarah-Michelle went on to work as a Political and Communications Associate at the British High Commission in Ghana, and then as a Brand and Marketing Communications Specialist at Vodafone Ghana. From 2013 to 2014, she studied for an MBA at the Dubai and Shanghai campuses of HULT International Business School, where she was named a Global Ambassador.
“By championing big initiatives like the Honour Code and taking advantage of work-study opportunities, Ashesi provided the perfect place to stockpile knowledge and gain expertise,” she says. “I must have worked in every Ashesi office – from Admissions to Student Services.”
Stepping Forward as a Leader
In 2015, Sarah-Michelle joined General Electric (GE), Ghana, as a Market Development Associate for Sub-Saharan Africa. In that role, she created brand and market development strategies for GE’s businesses in Africa. Today, as Lead Specialist for Market Development, she’s driving partnerships that scale GE’s presence as a leading provider of solutions to some of Africa’s biggest challenges.
“Going to Ashesi in those early days was really about taking a risk on one man’s dream. I had never met Dr. Patrick Awuah, but Ashesi’s vision forced you to pay attention. In retrospect, my time at Ashesi taught me some of my most important career lessons – failing successfully, not leaving any measure of innovation on the table and trying new things if the original plan doesn’t work. Ashesi taught me to be strong, hardworking, courageous, open-minded and compassionate – all critical skills for success as a 21st Century business leader,” says Sarah-Michelle.
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