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Simisola Smith

Associate Director, West Africa
Simisola is Associate Director for West Africa at Grok Global Services. With over a decade of experience in international student recruitment within Africa, Simisola has a proven track record of appointing and leading successful marketing and recruitment teams across Sub-Saharan Africa. Her in-depth knowledge of global education trends and dedication to fostering cross-cultural exchanges have led to significant cross-border student migration from Sub-Saharan Africa to various continents. Simisola's innovative strategies and leadership have substantially impacted the success of various educational institutions. Her primary focus is to nurture and develop Grok’s Program Officers, forge and strengthen Grok’s connections with key local stakeholders, and offer valuable insights and guidance on local education trends to ensure the success of Grok’s clients in the region.

Get to Know Simisola… 

When did you join Grok?
May 2024 (coincidentally, I joined on my birthday!)

Describe yourself in three words.
Three words are not enough! I am a whole vibe, but I’ll try – Multitalented, Energetic and Goal-oriented.

What were you doing before working at Grok?
I had worked for a few UK institutions (University of Sunderland, King’s College London and Lancaster University). I then moved outside the UK recruitment space and joined Global University Systems (GUS), representing the Berlin School of Business and Innovation (BSBI) as Business Development Manager (Africa), then becoming Regional Manager (Africa) and subsequently Regional Director (Africa). I then had a short stint with Uni Application Portal (UAP) as Director of Recruitment (Africa) just before I joined GROK.

What was your first job in education?
I was elected Vice President (Academic Affairs) of the King’s College London Students Union during my time as an undergraduate student. This was a full-time paid sabbatical position, and it ignited my passion to explore a career in the education sector. As an international student from Nigeria who was curious, as VP I had an opportunity to engage with the King’s International Marketing team on some of the student recruitment work they were doing in Nigeria. I was initially going to become a medical doctor.

What does international education mean for you?
For me, international education embodies the exchange of knowledge, cultures, and perspectives across borders, fostering understanding and cooperation on a global scale. It’s about breaking down barriers and embracing diversity to create a more interconnected world.

What is one of the most satisfying outcomes you’ve helped a client to achieve?
Getting a student to Germany who also wanted to be re-united with his parents after many years of them leaving Nigeria in search of greener pastures. This was in the midst of a severe lack of student visa appointment dates at the German consulate in Nigeria. The student and family trusted my guidance but I was also trying to be careful to manage their expectations. Then, out of no where he was given an appointment date and this was quickly followed by the visa approval. I remember receiving a call from his father and mother thanking me like I had just given them the whole world, I had to remind them that it was all our victory because if they didn’t trust me and had the patience, we would not have been able to achieve it.

What is your favorite book?
I have a wide range of favorite books across different genres, each offering something unique and special. It’s hard to pick just one!

What is your dream travel destination? Why?
The Maldives – it’s a fantastic destination for its stunning natural beauty, with pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkeling and diving, luxurious resorts offering relaxation and privacy, and a unique underwater world to explore.

What is your favorite food to eat with friends?
Suya (spicy tiny pieces of all types of well marinated grilled meat depending on your preferences. It is very popular in Nigeria) and then Chinese food. I can’t pick one!

What is a something you’ve learned from somebody inspirational?
After the sudden death of my father, my mum was left to raise my siblings and me alone. Despite the overwhelming grief and the adversities posed by my father’s family, she stood strong. We faced significant financial challenges even though my father made adequate provisions but his extended family wanting a share of the inheritance he left behind put us in a dilemma (this is not uncommon especially for young widows to face in Nigeria), but her unwavering determination and boundless love guided us through.
My mum’s journey taught me invaluable lessons about strength and resilience. She showed me that true strength lies in facing challenges head-on, even when the odds are stacked against you. Her selflessness and sacrifices ensured that we never felt the absence of a parent. She persevered in the midst of difficulties. She maintained a loving environment. Her courage and determination inspired me to strive for excellence and never give up, no matter how tough life gets. My mum’s story is a testament to the power of a mother’s love and the incredible impact of a resilient spirit.

What was your favourite subject at high school or university? Biology in high school and Microbiology at University.

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