Seven-Hour Time Difference? No Problem!

Marketing certificate graduate Vanessa Sangari earns multiple promotions

It’s not a big leap to say that Vanessa Sangari is committed to her professional development. This drive would keep her up most nights—literally.

For two years, Vanessa would log on to her marketing online courses from Ghana around 1 or 2 am (her time)—her passion and desire to learn the latest tools and techniques in marketing knows no bounds!

“I didn’t have a choice,” Vanessa says with a laugh on a recent Zoom call. “I was poised to complete the courses and they were so enjoyable that I didn’t mind the time difference. I’d usually sleep after class and then head off to work, which starts at 8 am.”

For more than a decade, Vanessa has elevated brands, developed extensive marketing campaigns and strategies, and achieved strong KPIs in various roles—be it on the advertising agency or the client side.

She’s currently a regional digital strategist at Publicis Groupe West Africa—a promotion from her previous role as social media lead that she credits to receiving during the course of taking our Certificate Program in Marketing. In this more senior-level role, Vanessa adeptly spearheads the development of effective and actionable digital strategies for selected brands within the Nestlé portfolio across Central and Western Africa (CWAR), a region comprising around 22 countries.

She also handles digital campaign planning and ensures seamless execution, working hand-in-hand with dedicated digital media managers. She’s part of a dynamic team and collaboratively engages with creative, media planning and community management teams, promoting a unified vision for digital campaign execution. She reports to the regional director of digital and media.

In any role that Vanessa succeeds at, it is her unwavering commitment to the marketing profession and strong desire for self-improvement that keeps her looking for new educational opportunities. “Marketing is the intersection between creativity and strategy, and I love that!” she enthuses. “It really excites me to be able to sit down and strategize for a brand and be creative about it.”



I was able to make the connection between what I was being taught and what I was doing on the job. That drew me in.



And this excitement keeps you striving to learn?

I’m always looking for new opportunities to further my marketing education. I did a lot of research online and narrowed it down to a few schools. I ended up deciding on UC Berkeley Extension and enrolled in one course to see how it felt, what the instructors were like—and I absolutely loved it!

It was so practical for me to learn more about Search Engine Optimization, Search ads and how to effectively run digital ads and campaigns. I was able to make the connection between what I was being taught and what I was doing on the job. That drew me in.

After that first class, I thought, “Let me see what more UC Berkeley Extension has to offer,” and I ended up registering for the full certificate. I actually want to do two more certificates, but haven’t gotten the chance to do so yet. One of them is the Business Analytics for Marketing Professionals certificate.

What was your experience taking online courses?

I think the online learning was really great. The class that I enjoyed the most—in terms of online flexibility—was Strategic Marketing Analytics: I could join the class once a week and ask the instructor any questions that I had. I loved the flexibility of that class.

I also thoroughly enjoyed instructor Reginald Duhé in the Marketing Management class, which opened my eyes to marketing and brand strategy and communications as a whole.

You were taking courses while working. Any examples of putting lessons learned to work?

Yes, every single concept has been applicable—every single one of them. Because of the Marketing Analytics Tools and Technologies and the Digital Marketing courses, which covered SEO, I can boldly say my SEO and analytical skills have greatly improved. I have even received compliments about how enriched my reports have become.

The Strategic Marketing Analytics course helped me look at data differently, which is great because we analyze a lot of different numbers: how a post is performing on social media channels, for example.

There's a senior-level colleague with whom I work who mentioned that something has changed about me since completing the certificate. It's almost as if I “switched gears,” as he called it. UC Berkeley Extension did that because it sort of snaps you awake: You’re not only learning new things, but also picking up on new perspectives because you are in the class with other people who are as equally knowledgeable in their field and they are sharing their experiences.

It also makes you feel comfortable enough to share your real-life examples. You learn more about a classmate’s industry and it changes your perspective on how you look at things—even though it may not be your field.




Course Path to Promotions

Marketing Management

Social Media Marketing Strategies

Strategic Marketing Analytics

Copywriting Communications for Marketing Professionals

Digital Marketing

Marketing Analytics Tools and Technologies


You said you've been promoted since completing the certificate—congrats!

Yes, thank you! I started the certificate program about two years ago and have been working here for approximately two years and eight months. I have had the opportunity to be promoted twice during this period.

When I was halfway through the certificate, I was a social media lead and then there was a restructuring to the team, which led me to take on digital strategy. My skills in this area quickly became evident, sparking discussions about a promotion, even though I had been in the role for a few months! Senior management was pleasantly surprised by my skill set and pleased by my growth. So for me, I owe a lot of that to UC Berkeley Extension.

What does earning the certificate mean for you, both personally and professionally?

It has opened up my perspective and greatly boosted my confidence. It feels good to have a certificate from such a reputable institution as Berkeley because I know it’s one of the best universities in the world. It's also opened my mind to more possibilities: After taking the Marketing Analytics Tools and Technologies course, I thought I should learn more about that subject. It’s also helped me make more connections in terms of classmates who reach out or somebody who views my LinkedIn profile and sees that I have UC Berkeley Extension listed.

I'm happy I took the certificate program—I wouldn't have had it any other way.

What advice would you give to a student who's just starting the certificate?

Keep an open mind. The Marketing Management class, for example, reshaped my mind on how I was looking at marketing and made a lot of difference in how I approached my work.

Be willing to soak in new information that will be given to you. That openness also means embracing other perspectives and other views. Your classmates will have differing opinions from what you're used to. Connect with your instructors and ask them more questions.

Go the extra mile. I was taking classes early in the morning because of the time difference and putting my best foot forward at all times.