About Ella

Ella Bell Smith has built her life and her career around transforming other peoples’ lives. Through teaching, mentoring, leading and inspiring, she has shown them the impact knowing yourself can have on every aspect of your life. Her insight enables people to have self-confidence and self-awareness and to be their authentic selves.

Working in the field of organizational behavior and organizational change, she is one of the leading experts in the management of race, gender, and class in the workplace. She is a consultant to Fortune 100 and 500 companies and public institutions on the advancement of all women in the workplace, as well as issues related to authentic leadership for both men and women.

In addition to teaching in Tuck’s MBA and executive education programs, Ella Bell Smith is the founder and president of Ascent: Leading Global Women to the Top, an organization committed to professional development and career advancement. Ascent’s leadership programs are offered in partnership with Tuck School of Business.

Professor Smith’s research interests focus on the career and life histories of professional women, and she is currently studying issues of personal leadership. Her book, Career GPS: Strategies for Women Navigating the New Corporate Landscape, offers proven techniques for women wishing to advance their careers in the fast-changing corporate world. With colleague Stella M. Nkomo, she coauthored the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed book Our Separate Ways: Black and White Women and the Struggle for Professional Identity, which provides an unflinching look at the formative experiences of female executives and reveal that black women have charted a unique course up the corporate ladder.

Professor Smith has written articles for Essence magazine and also the monthly “Working It” column. Frequently quoted by journalists, she has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Black Enterprise, Newsweek, Working Mother, and Fast Company.

In 2005, she received both the Compass Award from the Women’s Leadership Exchange and the Legacy of Leadership Award from the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement. She was the recipient of the McGregor Award for Best Paper, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, in 2001.

Professor Smith has served as an advisory board member of the National Women’s Leadership Summit, The White House Project, and as the advisory board chair of Best Companies for Women of Color, Working Mother Media. She currently serves on the board of the Center of Talent and Innovation.

Prior to joining the faculty at Tuck, she was on the faculties of Yale’s School of Organization and Management, MIT Sloan School of Management, University of Massachusetts, and University of North Carolina. She has been a Fellow of the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College.

She received her BA from Mills College of Education, her MA from Columbia University, and her PhD from Case Western Reserve University.

“Ella takes people on a deep dive into who they really are, helps them understand their strengths and weaknesses — and how weaknesses can become true strength.” 


American Express
Bank of America
Booz Allen Hamilton
Boston Scientific, Asia
Goldman Sachs
The Association of Magazine Media
Time Warner
United Technologies

U.S. Department of Labor

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