Alverno Professor Donna Engleman often says, “There are many paths up the mountain,” and that has been a mantra for Sarah Miller ’93 for much of her college and professional life. “It’s a constant reminder that there are multiple ways to look at and solve a problem,” explains Miller.
A Psychology and Philosophy double major, Miller didn’t enter college with an understanding of what she wanted to do, but rather a firm grasp of where she wanted to go: New York.
“I was never one of those people who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up, so I came to college with my sights tentatively set on education. Once I got to Alverno, I found my passion for psychology and philosophy.”
Although the two are inherently different subject matters, the combination worked well for Miller. “The constant asking ‘Why?’ didn’t stop in my childhood, which speaks to the philosophy mindset. As it relates to psychology, I’ve always had a big-picture appreciation of the world around me. I can put myself in the shoes of others to better understand why they act in certain ways and what factors go into their decisions.”
Immediately after college, Miller moved to New York where she landed a job at an advertising agency. Although she didn’t have what some would consider traditional degrees for a job in that field, the combination was a perfect fit.
“It all comes down to problem-solving: I can make decisions, I can think on my feet, and I can approach things from multiple perspectives. In addition to problem-solving, my analytical and communication abilities helped to differentiate me from other candidates. Those three things enabled me to get my foot in the door.”
Miller worked in several departments of the agency, learning various aspects of advertising, and continued to move into more challenging roles. Eventually, she went to work for other agencies and moved to other cities, all while growing her impressive roster of clients that included Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, Mitsubishi, Mars Petcare, Starbucks and others.
“Despite more than 10 years into my career, it was after working on the Mars Petcare account that I finally knew what I wanted to do when I grew up!”
Now in San Francisco, Miller pursued a position with the pet products division of Del Monte Foods where she, after a recent promotion, currently works as the senior manager of innovation strategy, insights and trends.
“Especially as it pertains to degrees held, I’m a bit of an anomaly when it comes to a manager position at a blue-chip company. I don’t necessarily have all the typical boxes checked, but once again, I have shown my ability to see the big picture, to problem-solve and to handle in-depth analysis. Never in a million years did I see myself where I’m at now, but I’m beyond happy and the path here has been wonderful.”