Sarah Heller

I was born and raised in Hong Kong in a family of German, Chinese and Korean heritage and attended GSIS from K1 until U6, first in the German stream and subsequently in the English stream, graduating in 2006.  Since graduating from GSIS, I attended Yale University where I studied Fine Art, then joined the wine industry in the US and then Hong Kong and in 2017 became the world’s youngest Master of Wine, a title representing the pinnacle of achievement within the international wine industry.

I run my own business through which I have several product ranges (including an Austrian wine brand) and advisory services.  I am also deeply involved in wine education (I am on the faculty of the Vinitaly International Academy), am the chairman of two major international wine competitions, am the host of a wine television series and am wine editor for Tatler in Asia.  I am also a practicing artist.  Additionally, I serve on the Committee of the Hong Kong Wine Society and interview candidates for the Yale Alumni Association.

Since returning to Hong Kong, I have become increasingly involved with GSIS, working with chairman Muksch and Director of Advancement Suzannah Denness to increase engagement within the alumni community through social gatherings and the GSIS Engage platform.  One key area I would hope to add value were I elected to the Board would be to continue to drive engagement within the community, which many agree has been underserved to date.  As somebody with continuing links to both the International and German streams, I believe I could help foster an inclusive environment.  Given my professional background, I would be happy to facilitate wine events for the community, as I have done for GSIS parents in the past.

Another area that is of interest for many within the broader GSIS community is language education and I am very engaged in that area as somebody who uses Mandarin, German, Italian and French professionally (I also speak some Spanish and Korean) because of my extensive work both in those countries and representing producer associations from Italy, Austria, Germany and France around Asia.  My children (currently 8 months and 2 ½) have been receiving a bilingual education in English and Mandarin so far, with some German spoken at home, and I am deeply committed to ensuring that they would be able to receive a strong education in Mandarin and German at GSIS.

A final area that I believe I could add value is as a beneficiary of the world-class art education program at GSIS.  I believe that excellence in traditional academic subjects and STEM need to be complemented by an equally robust program in the arts, which GSIS has historically had.  Through my own experience in higher art education and in the international art world I would hope to be able to help provide opportunities for budding student artists to find success in this sphere.